Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the findings of a records request refuting a claim by Kate Hudnut that Republicans had donated to her campaign.
In the latest campaign finance reports, Summit school board candidates paid for additional advertising, including text messages, mailers and ads with the Summit Daily News and Krystal 93.
The elected candidates — Kate Hudnut, Chris Guarino, Johanna Kugler and Lisa Webster — all had what’s called a “non-monetary contribution” from the Summit County Democrats for advertising that ran on SummitDaily.com. Contributions made on a candidate’s behalf must be reported, so each of these candidates reported about $50 worth of non-monetary contributions from the local Democratic Party. The Democratic Party digital ad campaign cost about $2,500.
In addition, Hudnut, Guarino and Webster each reported about $47 for post cards sent by the Democratic Party.
Guarino’s campaign paid $1,196 for a separate digital advertisement with the Summit Daily, and since it also included the names of Hudnut, Kugler and Webster, they were required to report that they reimbursed Guarino’s campaign.
“I was in charge of running my banner ad, and when the Dems chose to do one on their own, we just thought it was appropriate to treat it the same way,” Guarino said. “We weren’t going to reimburse the Summit Dems, but we reported it saying, ‘Hey, look, they did something that contributed to our campaign.’ So we’re reporting it as non-monetary. They didn’t give us money, but they promoted us.”
The winning candidates reported a total of about $3,000 in spending this filing period.
Hudnut acknowledged there have been nationwide claims of big money taking over races, and she thinks this is because of how contentious the elections have been. She said she has had Democrats give her money but that she’s had Republican and unaffiliated voters donate to her campaign, as well. However, a records request filed with the Summit County Clerk and Recorder shows that no Republicans donated.
“For good reason, campaign finances are really strictly regulated,” Hudnut said. “So we do absolutely our best to follow the letter of the law. … I take that very seriously. I’m not looking to break any laws while running for the school board.”
Each of the 4 For the Kids candidates — Kim Langley, Manuela Michaels, Pat Moser and Danielle Surette — focused their spending primarily on a text message and direct mail campaign, each paying $2,071 to Rampart Strategies.
Langley, Michaels and Moser each also paid $542.72 for newspaper ads, and Langley, Michaels and Surette each paid an additional $1,625 to Rampart for direct mailers.
In the latest round of expenses, the slate paid just over $15,000 total.
Langley wrote in a text message that there are many companies that organize direct mailing and text messages and that the slate ended up working with Rampart Strategies after looking at costs. She said the company designed the texts and mailers and tried to direct them to likely voters.
Langley added that since the slate had extra funding on hand, it sent its last round of mailers to a bigger audience, including those who were less likely to vote.
Toby Babich raised no money during the election but spent $250 of his own money in his latest filing, which did not itemize his expenses.
He was previously reported for late filings — he missed the first four deadlines — and requested a waiver to bring his fine down from $1,750 to $50. A rule in the Campaign Finance Manual says if it’s the first delinquency in 24 months and there is not a circumstance that made timely filing impractical, the penalty will be reduced to $50.