Pro-choice money put into City Hall campaigns
September 11, 2009
Mayor Dana Williams and his chief challenger each received a campaign donation from a prominent statewide pro-choice group, putting the organization into an election in which there appears to be little at stake with regard to abortion rights.
In a campaign-finance filing made to City Hall’s election official, Williams acknowledged that the Planned Parenthood Action Council in Salt Lake City, the political arm of Planned Parenthood, contributed $250 on Aug. 27. Brad Olch, a former mayor of Park City who is seeking a return to the city’s highest office, said he received a $250 contribution from the group as well. Olch did not list the donation in his filing, saying he had not deposited the check by the middle of the week.
Each of them said in interviews they support a woman’s right to have an abortion. City Hall elections are nonpartisan, but the pro-choice movement is typically seen as aligning itself with the Democratic Party.
Melissa Bird, the executive director of the group, said Williams and Olch are "equally good on the issues" of importance to Planned Parenthood.
"They met all the criteria (we) were looking at as a candidate," she said.
Bird said Planned Parenthood polls candidates about their stands on issues like family-planning services, equal access to reproductive heath care and comprehensive sex education.
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Bird said Planned Parenthood approached the other two mayoral candidates, Diania Turner and R. Dan Portwood, but neither of them received a contribution.
City Hall generally does not delve into issues important to Planned Parenthood, and there is not a municipal health department. Local health policies are crafted on the county, state and federal levels. Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood are not significant figures in City Hall politics. They instead try to influence state lawmakers and members of Congress.
The campaign-finance reports, meanwhile, show the fundraising efforts by Williams leading the others by a wide margin. According to his report, Williams had raised $13,036.46 by Tuesday. He had spent just $4,053.67 by the time the report was filed. Olch listed $4,650 in donations, including a $500 loan he gave to the campaign, and $2,355.86 in expenses.
Turner had received $300 in donations, including $100 she put into the campaign, and had spent $290.50. Portwood listed zero donations and $50.12 in expenses.
Williams and Olch have proven to be top-tier fundraisers, with Olch’s successful 1997 campaign and the 2001 victory by Williams being among the highest-grossing campaigns in Park City’s history.
Nearly half of the monetary value of the donations made to Williams in the early part of this campaign came from a firm called Flint Digital, a Kearns Boulevard marketing company. The firm provided $6,247.50 worth of in-kind services to the Williams campaign.
Adam Bronfman, a Park Meadows man and benefactor to several local causes, gave the mayor’s re-election bid $2,500, the largest individual donation made to any of the candidates through the reporting period. Williams said he supports Bronfman’s work in the Park City area, including his key role with Temple Har Shalom. Summit County Councilor Sally Elliott, meanwhile, donated $100.
Olch’s top contributors were Parkites Michael and Judy Mealey, who gave $1,000 between them, and John Block, an Illinois man who owns a local vacation home. He also gave $1,000.