The Issue 7 campaign in Cuyahoga County has cost more than $1 million -- with nearly all spent by one side. ideastream's Nick Castele reports.
The campaign to extend Cuyahoga County’s sin tax for upgrades to Cleveland’s downtown stadiums has raised and spent more than $1 million -- an amount that vastly exceeds spending by the issue’s opponents.
The Coalition for Greater Cleveland’s Future -- the pro-sin-tax political action committee better known as Keep Cleveland Strong -- raised about $1.4 million, including loans, according to unaudited campaign finance reports from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The campaign spent nearly $1.3 million. Most of the campaign’s funds came from Cleveland’s three professional sports teams.
The Cavaliers, Indians and Browns together wrote $997,000 in checks to the campaign, and loaned another $200,000. The teams also gave the campaign in-kind contributions valued at $619,000 for signs, marketing services, personnel and radio and video production -- that's in addition to the amount of cash raised and spent.
Keep Cleveland Strong spent about half of its money on Buying Time Media, a Washington D.C.-based company that places advertisements on TV and radio.
Meanwhile, the Coalition Against the Sin Tax raised less than $6,600. Most of that money came from Alan Glazen, a campaign leader who wrote a check for $5,000.
The coalition spent much of its money on campaign workers -- including writing a $1,500 check to Cuyahoga County executive candidate Tim Russo for shooting and producing video.
A second, separate campaign against the sin tax raised $35,000, spending much of that money on a Columbus-based political consulting firm. The Wholesale Beer & Wine Association of Ohio contributed nearly a third of the campaign’s money.
The rest of the contributions came from a nonprofit group called Ohioans to Protect Jobs. Federal tax records show the group’s president in 2012 was John C. Mahaney Jr., who stepped down last year from a position he long held as head of the Ohio Coalition of Retail Merchants.