Democrats are full of campaign money, so not

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Columbus City Council Chairman Shannon Hardin and his two Democratic running mates are swimming in campaign money – much of it from developers – while independent candidate Tom Sussi has less than $ 2,900, latest fundraising records show campaign before Tuesday’s general election.

Reports also show that a political action committee associated with Mayor Andrew J. Ginther is making an aggressive effort to try and defeat Number 7, the murky ballot initiative in front of city voters that is said to siphon off $ 87 million from coffers of the city’s general fund for a largely undefined amount. “green energy” program run by a secret group offering no specific details on how he would spend the money.

Postal and early voting are underway, and polling stations on Election Day will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Green energy initiative: What we know about the number 7 of the Columbus poll

Columbus City Council: What candidates say they will do for you

Voters choose from four candidates to fill three available city council seats. Incumbent Hardin is seeking re-election and political newcomers Lourdes Barroso de Padilla and Nick Bankston, whose political fortunes soared after incumbent Democrats Priscilla Tyson and Mitchell Brown withdrew from the race earlier this year, are running on a ticket alongside Hardin for the other two seats.

The trio have raised over $ 712,300 together since the spring, while spending $ 416,809.

The team outscored Sussi, a former Columbus TV investigative reporter who runs as an independent but is backed by the Franklin County Republican Party, by nearly 44 to 1, according to records.

Former TV reporter Tom Sussi is one of four candidates running in November for three Columbus city council seats.

They also spent it over 31 to 1, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Franklin County Board of Directors last week.

In fact, the Democratic team raised almost as much from several individual donors as Sussi collected in total, allowing them to purchase TV campaign time, among other things. Even Bankston and Barroso de Padilla have outscored Sussi several times independently.

Bankston didn’t have enough valid signatures to start the ballot, which puts him in the race to replace Brown, but he has raised $ 72,071 since the spring. Among its biggest donors are: Peter Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media ($ 13,700) and developer Don Casto ($ 12,500), representing more than a third of his donations.

Barroso de Padilla, who could become the first Latina elected to city council, has raised more than $ 91,300 since the spring, so much so that she has donated nearly a third to the Franklin County Democratic Party.

Together, the two candidates received tens of thousands of dollars in “in-kind” donations from Hardin, mostly in the form of advice and publicity.

Hardin started the spring with $ 130,066 already in his campaign war chest, and has since increased it by an additional $ 419,000. He has spent $ 312,553 since the spring.

Hardin’s biggest donors are: Orange Barrel Media’s Scantland (also $ 13,700); the Political Action Committee (PAC) of Compagnies Pizzuti, a real estate development and management company ($ 13,700); CASTO a regional real estate and development company ($ 12,500); developer Mark Wood ($ 13,500); Peter and Jeffrey Edwards, members of the Columbus Crew owner team ($ 12,500); and billionaire businessman Les Wexner, founder of L Brands, and his philanthropist wife, Abigail ($ 10,000).

Together, the Hardin team still had nearly $ 300,000 unspent last week, according to their campaign fundraising records.

Sussi said he raised about $ 16,276 since the spring, spent $ 13,384 and only had $ 2,891 left in the run-up to Tuesday’s election.

Meanwhile, Remington Road Group, a Columbus-based consultancy that notes it has “run high-stakes campaigns,” is leading the campaign to thwart Number 7. The effort is funded by Opportunity City PAC, whose spokesperson of Remington, Daniel van Hoogstraten, is controlled by Ginther, who chose the company. Ginther declined The Dispatch’s repeated requests to comment on the group’s campaign and fundraising goals, but appeared in TV commercials urging voters to vote against Number 7.

A campaign finance report filed with the county election board last month shows that Opportunity City PAC raised $ 107,000 in August from 11 entities in amounts ranging from $ 25,000 from PJAM, a corporation according to SEC documents controlled by Jeffrey Edwards, $ 2,500 from developer Bob Weiler. PAC also received two contributions of $ 15,000: one each from Wagenbrenner, a real estate development and management company in Columbus, and Rockbridge Capital LLC, a private equity firm that invests in real estate.

But since that filing, campaign fundraising records show that the campaign has raised tens of thousands more, including: $ 50,000 from Local 5402 of CMAGE / CWA, a union representing employees of the city ; $ 25,000 from DLZ Corp., a Worthington engineering company; $ 15,000 from the National Children’s Hospital; and $ 10,000 each from Nationwide Insurance, Huntington Bank and Grange Insurance.

Number 7 is a voting initiative promoted by ProEnergy Ohio LLC and seeking to divert $ 87 million of municipal tax money to ill-defined “green energy” programs, with open-ended management fees that could drastically chipping away at one of the programs the group is attempting. to create. City leaders called this a sham that could seriously harm basic city services by diverting around 11% of the city’s total tax collection from the city’s general fund to other uses, without any public control over how whose money is spent.

The secret group of Columbus residents behind Number 7 and their lawyers refused to answer questions about the initiative, as city leaders tried to block the ballot through technical details until the Supreme Court Ohio ruled earlier this year that ProEnergy had taken the onus of getting the measure in front of voters and ordered it on the November ballot.

Although the No.7 initiative has yet to be decided by Columbus, the secret supporters behind it are apparently already gearing up to start over in an upcoming poll – and are looking for even more money.

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