Even by his own admission, Fresno mayor candidate H. Spees is running his campaign on a shoestring budget.
But Spees is getting some help from the outside.
City records show Howard Ahmanson Jr./Fieldstead and Company has put more than $40,000 into an independent campaign for Spees.
Ahmanson is a multi-millionaire and supporter of Christian conservative causes. For instance, Fieldstead and Company in 2008 contributed $1,395,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign, which sought to prohibit gay marriage. Fieldstead is a private company that manages the Ahmanson family assets.
According to campaign finance reports, Ahmanson/Fieldstead spent much of the money supporting Spees on campaign literature, which could give a campaign boost to Spees, even as he struggles financially.
Spees, however, isn’t the only Fresno mayor hopeful to benefit from an independent group.
Fresno police and firefighters – separately and together – have spent $19,000 to help Perea. Of that, a group called “Fresno Police and Firefighters for Good Government” spent $9,000 on a television commercial.
The Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee has also spent $4,200 on Perea.
Known as “independent expenditures,” these groups can help candidates because they aren’t bound by campaign contribution limits.
The City of Fresno has contribution limits of $4,200 for individuals and most others, though the limit is $8,500 for some so-called “small groups.”
Independent groups have no limit on what they spend on behalf – or against – a candidate. The only hard and fast rule is any independent expenditure must have no coordination with a candidate’s campaign.