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NY, California, DC are big donor sources for Bullock’s prez campaign

Posted at 7:10 AM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 09:10:00-04

HELENA – Donors from California and the New York and Washington, D.C., areas have contributed about 40% of the money fueling Gov. Steve Bullock’s presidential campaign this year — and played a big role in financing his exploratory efforts as well.

Bullock, one of 24 Democrats running for president, officially launched his presidential bid May 14 and reported raising $2 million in campaign funds through June 30.

That amount puts him at 14th among the candidates, in money raised — but it’s much less than the front-running candidates, such as Vice President Joe Biden, who took in $22 million from April to June, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who raised almost $25 million during the same period.

Bullock’s campaign said he had donors from every state in the union, and his report filed Monday generally reflects that — but some states loomed larger than others, for donor support.

Bullock Campaign Fundraising
Bullock’s campaign said he had donors from every state in the union, but some states loomed larger than others, for donor support. (MTN News image)

The governor also formed an exploratory political action committee, the Big Sky Values PAC, in mid-2017, and used it to travel to political events around the country before officially launching his campaign.

The PAC raised $2 million through May and transferred nearly $16,000 to Bullock’s presidential campaign.

An MTN News analysis of the source of money for both the campaign and the PAC shows:

  • Californians and residents from the New York and Washington, D.C., metro areas account for a big chunk of Bullock’s campaign cash, in both the PAC and presidential fund.

Residents from three states — California, New York and Connecticut — accounted for about $1 million, or slightly over half of the entire take for the Big Sky Values PAC.

  • In his presidential account, people from those same states donated at least $603,000, or 29% of his total. Residents for the Washington, D.C., area chipped in another $191,000, or another 9%.
  • Montanans have played a smaller, but not insignificant, role in Bullock’s fundraising for both efforts. They have given at least $276,000 to his presidential campaign, or 13% of his total, and $158,000 to the PAC, or 8.5% of that total.

It’s also likely that Montanans made up at least part of the “non-itemized” individual donors giving to both entities. These non-itemized donors have accounted for almost one-fifth of his presidential campaign fund ($464,000) but only 6% of his Big Sky Values PAC money ($124,000).

“Non-itemized” individuals generally are those who give less than $200.

  • Two families figured prominently among donors to the Bullock PAC: Members of the Kenneally family in Butte, that owns Town Pump, contributed $50,000, and members of the Minella family in Connecticut contributed $55,000.

Bullock has had a few big-name donors, although they haven’t necessarily given large amounts of money. For example, actress Jane Fonda, who co-hosted a fundraiser for Bullock June 20 in California, donated $1,000 to his presidential campaign, and actor Jeff Bridges, who has property in Montana, gave him $500.

Bullock also ended the June 30 fundraising period with $1.5 million in his presidential account.

The Big Sky Values PAC spent most of its money on travel, catering, computer equipment and a range of consultants during the past two years — including $425,000 on two consultants who helped him raise the money in the first place.

-Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News