In the first six months of this year, City Council candidate Paul Herman had raised only $2,500 — a single loan he himself had given to his campaign.
Less than two months later, he had raised more than $36,000.
With that total, Herman became the candidate with the largest campaign coffers through Sept. 19, the most recent contribution reporting deadline, and surpassed Nick Schultz, the previous leader in contributions this year, who trailed at about $32,700. Close behind him was Konstantine Anthony, who had raised roughly $31,600.
Contributions totaling tens of thousands of dollars for the local election are nothing new; in 2015, current Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy’s campaign collected nearly $25,000. But records available on the city’s website, which go as far back as 2013, don’t show dollar figures as high as the ones seen in this year’s race.
“I think from the beginning we realized that this campaign was going to require raising a substantial amount of money due to the realignment of the municipal election with the general election,” Herman said in a phone interview, explaining that his campaign committee of 17 volunteers has been working to reach out to donors.
Herman’s total was previously higher, but his campaign disclosure was updated this week to show that he had received a total of $1,500 from a person involved in property management who had given three donations under different entity names. Since the contribution limit is $500, the campaign returned the rest of the money to the donor after being notified by the city clerk’s office, according to Herman.
Herman’s campaign received $500 from his treasurer — Debbie Kukta, assistant superintendent for the Burbank Unified School District — and a total of $1,250 from other people sharing his surname. Current Vice Mayor Bob Frutos and his wife, Laura, also donated $100 each.
Of the donations made to Herman’s campaign in the most recent reporting period — July 1-Sept. 19 — about 61% of the donations of $100 or more were from people with Burbank addresses, including the contribution from his treasurer.
Linda Bessin’s campaign, which has raised about $13,800, has the highest percentage of large local contributions for that period — more than 75%. However, $3,500 was self-donated and more than $100 was from her treasurer; minus those contributions, the percentage of large local donations to her campaign drops to about 24%.
Large donations are those that are $100 or more, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Among contributions to Timothy Murphy’s campaign, 62% were large local donations, though the reporting period for his statement was from Jan. 1-Sept. 19. His contribution total was just under $12,000.
Schultz had the lowest percentage of large local donations for the July 1-Sept. 19 reporting period: roughly 17%.
Tamala Takahashi has raised about $14,800 and Michael Gogin has collected nearly $8,000. Sharis Manokian again filed a statement saying her campaign is expected to receive less than $2,000, meaning she is not required to submit a contribution breakdown.
Herman has also made the most campaign expenditures — more than $32,000 — with $25,000 going to a campaign consultant group. Another $3,200 was spent on city filing fees, and $1,200 went to web advertising.
As of the reporting period, Anthony had the most remaining campaign dollars at more than $15,000, followed by Schultz at about $13,500.
John Echeto, Bessin’s campaign treasurer, said in an email that the accounting system the city uses to track campaign contributions appears sometimes to make an error in calculations, adding that a lower “total-to-date” figure listed on the campaign report left out a $500 donation that a donor had transferred to a different credit card.
Echeto said Bessin’s contributions total $13,800, and the Leader arrived at the same figure by adding together public contribution statements.
Only one other candidate’s total-to-date number differed from the figure given when adding contribution reports together: Anthony’s added total was $10.50 more than his total-to-date report. He said in an email that he believes the discrepancy is from having to re-enter donation data after his campaign’s first contribution statement.