What’s In Your Wallet?

On September 20th, mayoral candidate Naheed Nenshi released his donor list on his accountability sub-section of his website. Following suit with the challenge, Ric McIver released his list on September 25th. Reluctantly, Barb Higgins’ camp joined in on the 26th. Much has been said about the big names listed on the candidates’ donor lists. Somewhere, someone went through the lists, saw a couple known names and wrote an article about it, and every news source thereafter followed. For me, that’s not good enough.

I replicated the donor list of all of the Big Three, line by line. This was crucial in reading McIver’s donor list, as many of the donors contributed on multiple occasions. Once this process was complete, the data was compiled of all donors who donated at least $1,000. Then, the research began. After spending the past few days focusing on this project, we have something to present to you. And if you care about who is giving to your favourite candidates like I do, you’ll be fascinated too.

For the information that will be presented, there were seven donation sectors and two categories. The two categories were “Personal” and “Corporate”. The sectors break down as follows:

Auto: Manufacturers, Dealerships, Rental Agencies.
Development: Building and real estate development, design construction, and sales.
Energy: From the oil sands all the way to the wind farms.
Financial: Banks, non-specific investment firms.
Food: Restaurants, production.
Municipal: City-based associations and services such as the police and fire department.
Other/Unknown: Any donations that are either unaffiliated, or unable to determine what the affiliation is.

There will be comparative graphs provided to show how much money each candidate is receiving from each sector, as well as individual graphs.

Below we will be comparing three measures. The first will show the personal and corporate donations of each candidate. Afterwards, we will compare all three candidates’ donation totals together. The third and final measure will be to evaluate the percentage of donations that each candidate received per industry sector. For colour representation, Ric McIver will be blue, Naheed Nenshi will be purple, and Barb Higgins will be green. Sorry, Barb.

Before we start, once again, this only included donations over $1000. Thus, here are the donation totals we have over $1000:

McIver: $524,494
Higgins: $180,250
Nenshi: $97,750

What we can tell instantly from these numbers is that Higgins has received a higher average dollar per donor, where as Nenshi has capitalized on the smaller range donations ($1000 and under). In actual campaign figures, McIver’s dollar figure ranges at around $700,000 while Higgins and Nenshi are fairly closely matched over the $200,000 mark.

Measure One: Corporate/Personal Donations by Candidate

The first and most telling statistic from the image would be the amount raised from the developers. The amount raised in corporate donations from developers is almost equivalent to the entire kitty of either the Higgins or Nenshi campaigns. McIver has also had three years to rack up donations, which explains the above-$5000 donors. Here are some of the large, key developer donations:

JEC Enterprises – $13250, Carma – $13150 (which explains the mention of them at the ArtsVote Mayoral Forum), Trico – $9510, Hopewell – $7200, as well as big donations from CANA, Ronmor, Norr Architects, Jayman, Kovac, and Rencor – and that’s just the $5000+ range. I listed 66 total development companies having donated $1000 or higher. Again, that’s 66.

Outside of developers, Calgary BMW and Jack Carter Chevrolet Cadillac both donated the full $5000. TD Securities and Werklund Capital Corp in the financial sector did the same. Apparently, McIver eats a lot of Spolumbos sandwiches, as they were willing to give $5000 too (plus an additional $5000 from Tony Spoletini himself). In the energy sector, Murco Industries gave $10000, and Baytex as well as Trinidad Drilling each chipped in $5000. As far as municipal donations go, I found it interesting to see the Calgary Police Association having donated $1300 to the campaign, as well as the Fire Fighters Association (2500) and IAFF Local 255 (2000). Ecco Waste Systems also donated $6000 to the campaign.

In personal donations, Michelle Cann donated $8900, Marton Murphy donated $7500, while John Simpson, Eric Prosser, and Jollean Hancan donated $5000 each. Another name that intrigued me was Kurt Enders, the owner of Checker Transportation Group, donating $1400 (Checker donated as well, to a lesser degree).

If you include personal donations, some developers donated closer to the 15000-20000 range. Boy, the things I could do with that money.

When Higgins first announced she was running for mayor, there was a surge of energy injected into the election. Excitedly, the energy companies returned the favour and became the largest overall sector to donate to her cause. As far as developers go, Rencor and Ronmor both donated $5000, and have planted themselves firmly into both Higgins’ and McIver’s pockets. Also hedging their bets, Ecco Waste Systems donated $5000 to Higgins’ campaign.

In personal donations, it is clear to see Higgins’ connections around town, which is understandable with her level of celebrity. Irene Tutto, Murray Edwards, and Lezlie Stark all donated the maximum amount. Police Commissioner Daryl Fridhandler donated $5000, and both Lois and Richard Haskayne also contributed $5000 each.

Naheed Nenshi has gained a lot of momentum as the weeks go on, and he has successfully captured the youth demographic. The hard part about analyzing Nenshi’s data was the lack of an actual donation tally, so we tried using median values to get the most accurate numbers we could. There aren’t too many intriguing names on the corporate side of things, with only Rexcourt Properties, Nanji Professional Corporation, and Zinc Research donating in the 2500-5000 category. In the 2500-5000 personal donation range, we have Marc Doll, Rob Taylor, and Michelle Danyluk, as well as big donations from both the Cullen and Cochrane families. Richard Haskayne also donated. A good portion of the remaining donations came from the Arts & Culture community.

Measure Two: Donation Totals Comparison

As shown above, Ric McIver dominated in corporate donations, while others were not as far apart. But now, we need to look at a true comparison.

Measure Three: Donation Comparison, Percentages

As much as the above charts show a wave of McIver blue, the reality is, he had that much more in donations overall. So what really needs to be compared is how much each candidate received per sector as a percentage of their campaign funds.

There are some pretty stunning numbers above, but let’s see how they stack up against one another:

In Auto, McIver has the clearest advantage, having donations from multiple dealerships. But development has to be the most telling statistic. At least 50% of McIver’s campaign money came from developers, compared to only 19% and 15% for Higgins and Nenshi respectively. All candidates had a very low percentage in Finance, Food, and Municipal, with only McIver having corporate municipal support. Higgins dominated in the energy sector at 24%, and even Nenshi’s 13% was higher than McIver’s 9%.

Make of these numbers what you will, but it’s all very telling of the truth behind political campaigns. Candidates need money to run their campaigns, and they are likely willing to make promises with corporations and citizens who are willing to shell out the big money. Everyone knows this, even if it usually can’t be proven. And thanks to the challenges made this election, we have the numbers and information to properly speculate who these candidates owe favours too. Personally, I feel this should be mandated every campaign. It might seem unfair to some to have their name or business in the limelight, but if we talk about transparency, this is what it means. Calgarians have a right to know this before they vote, and it’s quite obvious why we’ve never been allowed to know in advance before; because really, it’s rather scary.

Originally posted at CalgaryPolitics.com.

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