Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Campaign Finance Reports and Timing
I took a beating this weekend from a few people for this story and the timing of it.
I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain why the story came out this weekend and not a few weekends before the election.
I finished the story about a month ago, still after the election. The government team editor was waiting on a few other stories so mine was in the can waiting to go to print. It still would have been after the election.
What some people did not know is that the last finance report is filed AFTER the election and that’s where a lot of the action happened for Benjamin Pitts and Gary Skinner. It’s not a story when developers give some money to candidates. It is a story if they give a lot of money to candidates. You’ll see a lot of action on their final two reports.
As for not mentioning the candidates’ donations under $100, I could have. But by no means do donations under $100 automatically mean that the "average citizen" is donating money to the candidate, as "southwest" pointed out about his favorite supervisor, Ben Pitts. The donations are anonymous on the reports, and there is absolutely NO evidence available to show the average voter was making the donation. It could have been Silver Cos. or any other developer donating $99 a pop. It could have been $50 a pop. The donations also could have been from the average voter.No one knows but the candidate.
What the story also did not point out was when Mr. Pitts ran for election in 2006-07, he refused to take money from developers. What changed in two years?
If the finance report story was printed on Nov. 1, would it have changed the results of the election? Neither of the contests was close.
Supervisor Gary Skinner, who represents the Lee Hill District, won easily over challenger D.J. McGuire. Skinner won with 58 percent of the vote based on unofficial results.
Supervisor Benjamin Pitts defeated Chris Yakabouski, who held the seat from 2004 to 2007. Pitts took 54 percent of the vote.
Developers giving money to candidates is nothing new. It would have been highly unlikely that if voters knew that Skinner and Pitts received a lot of money from developers late in the election that the news would have changed their vote.That statement is based on 11 years of experience covering elections.