Political Notebook

Devin Nunes has raised more than $7 million in this election

Rep. Devin Nunes and challenger Andrew Janz in file photos.
Rep. Devin Nunes and challenger Andrew Janz in file photos.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, flexed his fundraising muscles this spring, bringing in nearly $5 million between April 1 and June 30 as he faced a surprising surge from challenger Andrew Janz.

In all, the House Intelligence Committee chairman has raised more than $7 million this election cycle. He ended 2016 with just over $3 million and has spent nearly $4.5 million as of June 30, leaving him with a little over $6 million on hand.

The numbers are quite a bit more than what was widely reported through the Federal Elections Committee as the latest figures became public Sunday.

Nunes’ campaign made an error in its July quarterly filing. In the section for cycle totals, it listed just $3.66 million in total contributions. That number is in fact about $7.4 million.

Nunes’ campaign did not respond to a question about the discrepancy.

The new money, combined with what OpenSecrets reported Nunes has raised in the past, equals about $19 million since his first failed congressional bid in 1998. He was first elected to Congress in 2002.

Janz, a Fresno prosecutor, also posted an impressive quarter, raising $1.4 million. His fundraising total now sits at $2.8 million. He has spent about $1.7 million, leaving $1.1 million in cash on hand.

Janz has surprised many with his fundraising abilities. Early in his campaign, he had hoped to raise about $1 million by this point. He has nearly tripled that, and he’s done so largely through individual donations.

The average donation to Janz from April 1 to June 30 was just over $19 — compared to about $1,162 for Nunes.

Janz’s push may have pressed Nunes into overdrive. Nunes’ 2018 fundraising has dwarfed his previous election purses.

In 2012, when Nunes faced his toughest challenge to date in Democrat Otto Lee, he raised about $1.5 million for the entire cycle.

In 2016, he raised about $2.2 million total.

Tom Holyoke, a political science professor at Fresno State, said Nunes’ 2018 fundraising is not surprising, given the rising amount spent in campaigns across the country and Nunes’ stature within the party.

He added that big-time Democratic Super PACs and the party itself are likely prioritizing other races, meaning Janz is not getting the support that Nunes can call on from the GOP and its related PACs.

Much of Nunes’ fundraising continues to come from retired or acting agribusiness leaders and corporate PACs, one of which may be a bit of a surprise: Facebook. The social media giant’s PAC gave Nunes $1,000 in June and has donated $6,000 to the incumbent to date.

Nunes typically donates large portions of his own fundraising to GOP candidates and incumbents facing tough re-election bids, but he appears to be keeping most of his cash this time around. He gave about $105,000 to other committees this quarter.

He gave Hanford City Councilman Justin Mendes $8,800. Mendes, a Republican, is neck-and-neck with Bakersfield Democrat Rudy Salas for the 32nd Assembly District.

Nunes also paid $24,500 for polling services from American Viewpoint Inc., which specializes in polls for GOP clients. The information gleaned from this poll was apparently not publicly released.

A poll commissioned by End Citizens United, which has endorsed Janz and other Democrats, put Nunes just eight points ahead of the challenger.

Nunes spent more than $21,000 on a series of radio, television and Facebook ads targeting The Fresno Bee regarding a story on Nunes’ ties to Alpha Omega Winery. The company was sued by a former employee after it allowed another group to use its yacht to host a party that allegedly featured sex workers and illegal drugs.

Local broadcast networks are required by the Federal Communications Commission to disclose the cost and the number of times such ads air.

In all, Nunes spent at least $21,405 to run his two-minute ad on KMJ 580 AM/105.9 FM, Kiss Country KSKS 93.7 FM, Power Talk KALZ 96.7 FM and KMPH Fox 26. At least $2,000 of the $14,000 total spent on Facebook ads this quarter went to boosting his anti-Bee advertisement.

Nunes also gave a local digital media company $6,457.50 shortly after the ads began airing, but it is unclear how much of this went specifically to the anti-Bee ad, which featured drone footage and other production touches.

Finally, Nunes ran the ad at least 23 times on cable network Fox News. Because cable networks don’t submit the same information to the FCC, it is unclear how much was spent on these.

Rory Appleton: 559-441-6015, @RoryDoesPhonics
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