Gavin For Gov: Who Got Paid?

Categories: Politics
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Audrey Fukuman
Don't worry -- the whale was compensated

Last night, we made our initial perusal of Mayor Gavin Newsom's Dostoevskyian, 529-page campaign filing laying out the finances in his failed bid for governor. And while Newsom spent around $700,000 more than he raised in 2009, his campaign petered out with him owing only around $7,500. We don't predict Newsom will have to hock any of his possessions.

So, if you donated money to Newsom, you didn't get much return on your investment. Certainly someone was making money, though -- the pollsters, consultants, pizza chefs, and hotel-keepers of the realm came off quite well thanks to Newsom's largess.

Here's our breakdown:

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Will Harper
Eric Jaye's company earned $427,363 from Newsom's gubernatorial campaign in 2009
The big winner in the Newsom sweepstakes probably isn't who you expect. It's River City Business Services, a Sacramento-based bookkeeping, payroll, and political reporting organization that Newsom's campaign paid to the tune of $617,476. While you'd expect many campaign costs to be funneled to the bookkeepers and then distributed to others, when we called River City they told us this was not the case. Interesting.

Next up is Eric Jaye. Newsom's longtime political cornerman and strategist acrimoniously parted ways with San Francisco's pomade-headed boy in July. Be that as it may, Jaye's Storefront Political Media took home $427,363 in 2009. Meanwhile, the consultant who supplanted Jaye, Garry South, earned $264,158.

Is that a lot of money? Yes and no. Former Newsom consultant Jim Ross notes that Jaye was in charge of creating -- and paying for -- much of Newsom's strategies, meaning he was likely just a conduit for this money. But that doesn't appear to have been the case with South, a straight-up strategy guy. "I don't know that Garry South was tasked with doing anything, other than just providing strategic advice and consulting," notes Ross. Along those lines, payments to Jaye come in dinks and dunks while payments to South tend to be in $25,000 piles.

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Will Harper
Garry South's strategic consulting earned him $264,158 from Newsom's campaign last year
Moving along, Newsom didn't leave home without his American Express card. The campaign paid AmEx $210,334 for all the things you'd expect them to. Individual glimpses reveal Newsom et al. were not sleeping in Motel 6; a four-day stay for Newsom and two staffers in New York City cost $3,399. But, then, that includes room service.

Other big earners include Warren and Associates LLC, a Novato law firm specializing in political financial management ($144,622); The Ashmead Group (fund-raising and strategy -- $102,214); Jim Sutton's law firm ($82,849); consultant Edana Walker ($80,647); A-Political (fund-raising -- $77,788); and RNM Sutter (office expenses -- $72,340).

Finally, Benenson Strategies took home $180,064 for polling. This was just about the only item Ross found unusual on Newsom's spreadsheet. "That's a lot of polling for early in the campaign," he said. "It's not an extraordinary cost for a governor's race. It sounds like at least two or three statewide polls. But that's a lot of polling to do a year out."

While some people certianly made out just fine from Newsom's raise-it, spend-it strategy, even his former consultant-turned-critic Ross found it hard to Monday-morning quarterback the campaign.

"They were in a strategic bind. They had to spend money to campaign against Jerry Brown, who just started out so far ahead," he said. "It's a challenge to catch up and you have to spend money early. It's not always sustainable.

"They took a real chance," Ross continued. "Running against Brown, you have to take some chances."


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