Political Notebook

Swearengin, Yee essentially start from scratch in state controller fundraising

In their state controller battle, it looks like Republican Ashley Swearengin and Democrat Betty Yee are basically starting from close to zero in the money department. Or, in Swearengin’s case — below zero.

Campaign finance reports this week show Yee with $84,000 in her campaign account and $18,000 in unpaid bills. So on June 30 — the final day covered by the reports — she actually had a net of around $66,000.

Swearengin is faring even worse.

Fresno’s mayor had around $133,000 in the bank, but almost $260,000 in unpaid bills. That’s a campaign debt of around $125,000.

Both sides have added to the campaign coffers since then. Swearengin has $77,000 of late-contribution reports since June 30, and Yee has a single $50,000 contribution from the state Democratic Party.

But it will take more than that — a lot more — to wage a statewide campaign.

Tim Clark, Swearengin’s campaign consultant, said the debt is largely from the primary election — including around $64,000 in “win” bonuses owed to slate mailers that featured Swearengin.

“It’s a statewide race,” Clark said. “We’re already on track and penciling out our finance plan, and it looks really good.”

One step was a Thursday Swearengin fundraiser hosted by local businessman Richard Spencer at Harris Construction. Around 60 people paid $1,000 per person and up to attend the event.

A fundraiser in Orange County and two in Los Angeles are also coming up, Clark said.