In looking at the campaign finance reports for Charleston’s mayoral candidates, two juicy tidbits emerge. One is that P. Steven Dopp, owner of the Francis Marion Hotel, gave money to three candidates opposing Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. The only one he didn’t give money to was Joshua R. Kennedy, who said he would not accept campaign donations. This is interesting in light of the fact that Riley circulated an e-mail last week that named Dopp as the “ringleader” of Citizens for a Better Charleston, which has been anonymously criticizing Riley and promoting his opponent, City Council member William Dudley Gregorie. Dopp has not answered requests for an interview, but he has been quoted in an April 19 New York Times article as a critic of the new cruise ship terminal at Union Pier.
“The prescription for a high-quality destination does not include being overrun with cruise ships,” Dopp said then. “The scale of the ships and the number of people dumped on the street — it’s not what Charleston was or wants to be.”
The other noteworthy piece of information is that Riley is blowing his opponents out of the water in terms of fundraising, raking in nearly six times the combined total for the four other candidates. It’s going to take a grassroots miracle for a non-incumbent to win this race. Here’s what we’ve found so far in the latest available data from the State Ethics Commission:
Joseph P. Riley Jr.
• Contributions: $433,737.41
• Expenditures: $372,467.24
• Notable Contributions: $1,000 each from Daniel Island Real Estate, Daniel Island Company, Charleston Preferred Properties, and Daniel Island Associates, all of which list 230 Seven Farms Dr. as their address. $1,000 from Robert C. McNair, owner of the Houston Texans. $1,000 from William D. “Billy” Swails, mayor of Mt. Pleasant. $1,000 from Mead Westvaco. $1,000 from S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian. $1,000 from Maverick Southern Kitchens, the restaurant company that owns High Cotton and Slightly North of Broad. $1,000 from the S.C. Stevedores Association. $1,000 each from Charleston RiverDogs and former RiverDogs Sales Manager William “Night Train” Veeck. $1,000 from philanthropist and businesswoman Anita Zucker. $250 from City Council member Mike Seekings. $250 from former Summerville Mayor Berlin G. Myers. $100 from state Sen. Vincent Sheheen.
• Notable Expenditures: At least $89,000 in consulting fees to campaign manager Ginny Deerin. $18,000 in consulting fees to campaign field director Brandon Upson.
William Dudley Gregorie
• Contributions: $52,964.86
• Expenditures: $51,446.95
• Notable Contributions: A total of $4,500 from P. Steven Dopp and other people and companies listing 387 King St. (the Francis Marion Hotel) as their address. $1,000 from Carrie Agnew, a member of the Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, which is suing Carnival Cruise Lines seeking regulations for the company’s operations in Charleston. $1,000 each from Gerard J. Morgan and from 266 Ashley Avenue LLC, both of which list the same P.O. Box address. $330 from Crimson Strategies, the consulting agency Gregorie hired to help with his campaign (J. Matthew Mills, founder and principal of Crimson Strategies, has gotten $2,000 in consulting fees so far. He previously worked on U.S. Rep. Tim Scott’s campaign).
• Notable Expenditures: $40-60 to various people for sign distribution and campaign canvassing.
David A. Farrow
• Contributions: $15,425.51.
• Expenditures: $14,318.86.
• Notable Contributions: $1,000 from Francis Marion Hotel owner P. Steven Dopp. $250 from City Council member A. Victor Rawl. $250 from former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel. $100 from Tom Doyle, president of Palmetto Carriage Works.
• Farrow also got a combined $1,827 worth of small donations from his own home address. Campaign manager Monica Biddix explains it this way: “We experienced some trepidation with people who wanted to give money but didn’t want their name showing up. I called the Ethics Commission to see how to report this. They instructed me to create a group called ‘$100 or less,’ and when I asked them what address to use, they told me that I could use the candidate’s home address.”
• Contributions: $7,649.85
• Expenditures: $4,931.31
• Notable Contributions: $5,629.85 from himself. $1,000 from Francis Marion Hotel owner P. Steven Dopp.
• Notable Expenditures: $10 to Xtranormal Movie Maker.
Joshua R. Kennedy
• Contributions: $0
• Expenditures: $1,424.55
• Notable Expenditures: $1,000 to the City of Charleston for filing. $325 to Impact Image for bumper stickers. $81.21 to Vistaprint for business cards. $18.34 to GoDaddy.com for a website. That’s everything he has spent. Anybody seen one of those bumper stickers?