With one week until the primary election in St. Louis, mayoral candidates’ political action committees (PACs) are raking in big money from influential donors.
While the maximum donation allowed by an individual or committee to a mayoral candidate is limited to $2,600, as stipulated by a St. Louis Board of Alderman bill unanimously passed in June 2018, the same is not true for PACs.
These committees, which raise money for independent expenditures, may solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals and other groups. The finances of PACs supporting St. Louis mayoral candidates are detailed in this report.
Aldermanic President Lewis Reed
Aldermanic President Lewis Reed’s PAC, One St. Louis, has raised over $200,000 with nine contributions since the beginning of 2020.
More than half of that came from one funder — CHIPP (Carpenters Help in the Political Process) — which donated $100,000 on Feb. 11. CHIPP is a main proponent of privatizing St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
Behind CHIPP in contributions to Reed is Clayco and its CEO, Robert Clark, who donated $55,000 in total. Clayco is a construction engineering company, and Clark worked with private-equity firm Oaktree Capital in its effort to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.
In addition, Jeff Tegethoff contributed $10,000 to One St. Louis on Wednesday. He is a managing partner at CRG, the St. Louis real estate development and investment arm of Chicago-based construction firm Clayco.
David Steward, World Wide Technology chairman, contributed $25,000. Steward is a longtime Reed supporter, having contributed more than $150,000 to Reed’s past unsuccessful mayor bids.
United Food and Commercial Workers, a labor union, contributed $10,000. The other three contributions were from Progressives for Mary Entrup ($387.12), Nexus PAC ($5,000) and Milan Patel ($2,000).
In light of those contributions, it’s no surprise Reed’s campaign committee launched a six-figure TV ad campaign Sunday. In it, Reed talks about losing his brother to gun violence and coming up from a difficult time while homeless.
A new PAC established in December, Leadership Counts, received $32,400 in contributions on Feb. 11 — $25,000 of that coming from Steve Stone, developer Paul McKee Jr.’s longtime attorney.
In February 2020, McKee asked the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment for an extension on its deadline in his hospital project in north St. Louis and is currently embroiled in litigation with the City of St. Louis for defaulting on his NorthSide Regeneration development agreement.
Stone also helped write the 2007 Distressed Area Land Assemblage tax credit law and, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, in 2012 Stone’s company sold less than an acre of vacant ground north of downtown to McKee for $463,000, creating $230,000 in state tax credits.
Stone also donated $2,600 to Reed’s campaign through his company University Square Company and another $2,600 under his name.
In addition, Leadership Counts contributed $2,500 in December to theLouPAC, a committee that donated $10,000 to the Committee to Elect Reed in September 2018 and $2,600 to his current mayoral bid.
St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones
As for St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, her PAC 314 Forward has raised about half ($104,000) of what Reed’s has, with three times the number of contributions. Eighteen of those contributions were each $3,000 or less.
Fuse Advertising is 314 Forward’s largest funder, contributing $20,000, plus an additional $5,000 from its CEO Clifford Franklin. Fuse Advertising bills itself as an independent political consultancy company that has worked on campaigns across the country such as President Barack Obama’s bid for the executive office and Jay Nixon’s bid to become Missouri’s governor.
Right behind Fuse Advertising is The St. Louis American’s publisher, Donald Suggs, and Michael Homes, RX Outreach chairman emeritus, who each contributed $15,000. Alison Ferring, a local philanthropist, donated $10,000. Cafe Soul St. Louis contributed $8,000.
Jones’ and Reed’s PAC funding somewhat mirrors their campaign committee fundraising — 90% of Reed’s $166,906 came from 71 contributions and of the $155,647Jones received at the time of the report, more than 550 contributions amounted each to $50 or less.
Alderwoman Cara Spencer
While Alderwoman Cara Spencer, Ward 20, may have outraised all three of her opponents, her PAC financing is almost nonexistent in comparison to Reed and Jones. Gateway to Progress was founded in mid-December and the PAC has received one $10,000 contribution on Feb. 10 from Daniel Ludeman, CEO of Concordance Academy.
Ludeman previously served as CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors and now runs Concordance Academy, which seeks to enhance the re-entry experience for formerly incarcerated individuals and reduce their risk of reincarceration.
Because the PAC is only two months old, it has not filed any reports, meaning contributions less than $5,000 are not available through the Missouri Ethics Commission yet.
Gateway to Progress paid for Spencer’s television ad campaign, which references her 10-point plan to reduce crime and “a commitment to rebuild our local economy.”
Utility executive Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones, the sole Republican in the race, is self-funded, having loaned his campaign $10,000 of the $11,100 it raised. Records indicate no PACs have given directly to his campaign or supported him in other financial ways.
The primary for the mayoral election will be held March 2 and the general election will be held on April 6.
With the passing of Proposition D on Nov. 3, the primary will be nonpartisan and voters will be asked to vote for every candidate they approve of. The two with the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, will go on to the general election.
The St. Louis Post-Dispach has endorsed Lewis Reed and Cara Spencer in the mayoral primary election.