Rob Bishop’s corporate contributors prompt concern from challenger
October 25, 2016
There are numerous policy differences between Congressman Rob Bishop, the Republican incumbent in the 1st Congressional District, and his Democratic opponent, Peter Clemens.
There are also stark differences between their campaign financing, detailed at the end of September as the two entered the final weeks of the contest in the congressional district that includes Park City and surrounding Summit County.
Bishop's numbers outdistanced his challenger by a wide margin, but Clemens said in an interview the incumbent's fundraising efforts make him susceptible to special interests.
Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Bishop had received $852,264 in contributions by Sept. 30. More than half of the contributions — $511,673 — came from political-action committees rather than individuals. Democratic opponents have long criticized Bishop's campaign finances, claiming he tends toward special interests instead of individual constituents. They charge the special interests then exert influence on him.
Clemens had received $98,595 in contributions. He did not receive a contribution from a political-action committee, relying instead on support from individuals. He said in an interview he is not accepting contributions from political-action committees or special interests.
Clemens, a physician from the Ogden area, is mounting a longshot campaign to oust the incumbent from Brigham City. The 1st Congressional District is heavily Republican and Bishop has easily dispatched his Democratic opponents. Neither of the candidates raised significant money in Park City or wider Summit County. Bishop listed a $250 contribution from Rey Butcher, a Questar Gas executive with an address in Park City. Clemens listed three contributors with Park City addresses – Robert Dillon, Roxane Googin and Hank Louis. The $2,700 contribution from Louis, who has an architectural firm in Park City, was the largest of the three.
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The financials have not been a top campaign issue, but Clemens is especially critical of the incumbent's contributor list. Bishop has received contributions from a range of political-action committees, including those representing airlines, the coal industry, resort developers, the telecommunications industry, gaming interests and the defense industry. Clemens noted that Bishop received few contributions from inside of Utah.
"The political narrative in Washington, D.C., and raising money, is more is always better, so let's accept, in Congressman Bishop's own words, money from anyone," Clemens said.
He said someone like Bishop will be "highly influenceable" as a result of the contributions.
"I think it means he would be beholden to the special interests putting him into office," Clemens said.
Bishop acknowledged in a prepared statement contributions from outside of Utah have ticked upward during the election this year. He also said his legislative agenda is not based on the wishes of contributors.
“I have always been an anemic fundraiser. I raise fewer funds than most members of Congress. I raise less than any other member of the Utah delegation and I always have. I dislike raising campaign money, but I am raising about the same amount from within the district that I have in past years," Bishop said. "This election cycle there has been an increase in the amount of money coming from out of state. If I get donations from out of state without having to take it out of the pockets of my own constituents, that doesn't hurt my feelings and it certainly doesn't influence my behavior. Money will never dictate how I vote.”