Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Lots about CASH in the Omaha Mayor's race.

Candidates were required to file their 2008 fund raising and spending reports with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission .

Here's what we have discovered:

Hal Daub had a relatively commanding lead in fundraising in 2008. He raised over $300,000 -- about $70,000 more than Councilman Jim Suttle and double that of Councilman Jim Vokal. He got big contributions from Hawkins Construction ($25K), Union Pacific ($20K) and his former MECA board member David Sokol ($10K) (amongst others).

Now, we say "relatively" commanding lead, because Daub also SPENT a lot of money during 2008. He went through $142,000 of that $320,000 in 2008. Now keep in mind, that number does NOT include cash spent on his TV ads in January of 2009. So his Cash on Hand (COH) number as of today, not counting any additional receipts, will likely be lower than the $178,000 listed.

For what it's worth, Daub spent $50K on salaries and another $20K on consulting services from former Omaha City Councilman (and now Arizona resident) Jim Cleary.

Another big chunk for Daub was $16K spent on a poll in May. Of course he then took that poll and showed it to donors to strengthen his positions. Sometimes you gotta spend money to raise money.

Now these are all probably necessary expenditures, but it does show that someone could be sneaking up on Daub.


And that's Jim Suttle.

Suttle's reports show him having raised $247,000 -- but in 2008, he only spent $67,000. That leaves him with COH to the tune of $180,000 -- essentially neck and neck with Daub. Keep in mind that while Suttle has not yet spent any money on TV, these are all pre-January numbers and Daub hadn't spent any yet either.

Though it's not as if Jim Suttle hasn't spent money either. The problem with Suttle's report is just WHAT he spent the money on.

To get a taste of this, we can see that Suttle paid, "Jim Suttle" $13,181 in 2008 for "Expenses". What Expenses you might ask? Well, you're apparently going to have to ask, because that is as detailed as his report gets.

And then there's the $75K that he has paid to Clear Communications Partners. What do these guys do? Well...Suttle paid them "Retainer Expenses". Then there was two months worth of "Consulting" (ok, we'll assume that). And finally there was "various expenses" and "associated costs". That's pretty much transparent reporting, eh?

(Oh and by the way, what's with the "Loan" info in Schedule C? Suttle lent the campaign $45K. Then, according to the summary, it was all paid back. But then in the Schedule it says only $25,000 was paid back. But that's OK, because around $214K was transferred from the "Friends of Jim Suttle" account to the "Suttle for Mayor" account. How do we know this? Well, guessing. Because it's not detailed anywhere -- not in his receipts to the Mayor campaign nor in the expenditures for the "Friends". But, you know, whatever...)

[Update 2/3/09, 2:00pm
It's unclear to us how complete the documents on the NADC site are.  For that reason, for now we hold off on any criticism where a report looks to be incomplete.]

A few notable contributions to the Suttle campaign include $10K from David Sokol in September 2008 (about six months after Suttle lead the opposition to the new stadium), $1000 from former Senator Dave Karnes, $1,000 from Hawkins and $2,000 from U.P.


Jim Vokal's report shows that he didn't get many of the heavy-hitters like Daub and Suttle. A few notables were $3,000 from developer Jay Noddle, $6,000 from HDR PAC (Jim Suttle's former company), $500 from Dave Karnes and $500 from David Sokol. A chuckle-worthy one is $325 from three different contributions in June and July of 2008 from one Hal Daub. Vokal hadn't announced yet then, and we'll assume Hal was hoping he'd stay out.

Vokal's numbers also do not represent what he spent on TV in January 2009, so, like Daub and Suttle, we would expect his present numbers to be lower. How much lower? We don't know.

Some of Vokals expenditures include $10K paid to Blackwell Sanders (Hal Daub's law firm) for legal expenses related to (we'll assume) fighting the charge he used public space for an old ad (which he won). There is also $26K paid to Dresner Wickers for the production of his ads. We don't know whether the Daub or Suttle outlays represent those type of expenditures, but that can represent a chunk of change.

Also, other than payments for their consultant, there are no expenditures for staff salaries represented, though there seem to be at least three staffers who would begin getting paid starting in January.

In the end (of this report) Vokal is down about $80K to Daub and Suttle (though what everyone spent in January will make a big difference on those numbers). It looks like Vokal has some serious catching-up to do on the cash front.

Is Vokal too far behind in the money race to make it a difference maker? Does Suttle have enough cash to make a splash on the scene, or do voters already know plenty about him? Can Daub parlay his fund raising into vote-getting?

You're an opinionated bunch. You tell us.

(And here is the OWH's take on the whole thing.)


It seems that while he may not be on TV (that we've seen), Jim Suttle has done some sort of video-making.  And there's a decent chance that it was Suttle himself who made them using his camera phone, because the vid is about as impressive as his suck-tastic campaign website.

The video shows various business peeps giving testimonials about Suttle. But the lighting is poor, there's some bad music overlayed, and the productions values pretty much blow. Compare that to the videos on Daub's website or the Vokal ads, and you can see what we mean.

And then while Daub probably has the top website, and Vokal's is clean and clear, the aforementioned Suttle site if just awful. It reminds us of a cheap fast-food website, it has the goofy unwieldy photo section and is just plain dull.

What is interesting is that he then spent four grand with a local company, Secret Penguin, to develop some sort of alternate site. That site, at OmahaNext.com, is very hip, cool and has some funky graphics. But...what's the point? It lists some generic platitudes of Suttle's and while it looks cool, we don't see where it fits into a campaign strategy. Why they didn't just have Secret Penguin re-do their whole site (as long as they were going to blow $4K), we don't know.


And remember our old Congressman Lee Terry? Haven't heard from him in a while, except here and there on the bailout stories. Well, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wants you to 'member.

They're now running ads saying that Terry is mean and awful and un-Obamaic because he joined the bipartisan group that opposed the partisan Democrat bunch who want to spend a ridiculous amount of your money on stuff as fast as possible.

Of course, the horse has already left the barn on that House vote, so it's strange that they're bothering attacking Terry now.

Especially when the guy they SHOULD be hitting is one Senator E. Benjamin Nelson! 

Heck, Nelson is the guy shooting his mouth off against the plan of his newly ordained party leader. Shouldn't they be leaning on Nellie? Heck, they NEED his vote. Terry joined Democrats in voting NAY in the House. But they need Nelson in order pass it in the Senate.

So please people, write and call your Senator. And tell him that he should...well... What's his position again?

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Anonymous said...

Impressive start for Suttle.

About what I expected for Daub, who has been raising money since May. (I especially loved the $25,000 thank you card from Hawkins for the West Dodge Expressway).

As for Jim Vokal -- One can only conclude that his mayoral campaign is DOA. His January media buy was big -- his COH probably looks awful right now.

The real question now is: Will Vokal limp along until losing in the April primary, or will he abandon the mayor's race and re-file for the District 3 council seat?

If he chooses the former, he can lick his wounds and seek office in the future. If the latter, he risks looking kind of ridiculous.


Wake up, people!

/s NE Voter

Steve Scarle said...

Legalized payola is what we have here. The Mayor’s office is up for sale.

Anonymous said...

I'll go out on a limb and say that Hal did not spend $26K on production for his TV ad. More like $26.

Anonymous said...

Daub go no "head start" by "raising money since May." Suttle and Vokal have been doing the same, for much longer. The contributions have just gone toward their city council cofferes, then are transferred wholesale into the mayoral war chest.

Even so, Daub raised TWICE as much money as Vokal, 1/3 more than Suttle.

Anonymous said...

Amazing, Sweeper, but you managed to spin this one to make it sound like something other than what it is -- a clear sign that Hal is ahead.

Anonymous said...

Vokal couldn't even get 10 people to contribute more than $250? For a mayor's race?

Street Sweeper said...

Anony 1:59,
Vokal's report shows 40 individual donors of more than $250.

Anonymous said...

This is the tax trans fat/ban cigarettes third party sign and flag guy.
Vote for the first one that wants ban cigs. Millions of dollars in tourism money for life for Omaha. Omaha will be the talk of the world and will get in the history books!

Street Sweeper said...


The NADC site, for whatever reason, does not seem to be uploading the complete reporting docs.

As we updated, our criticism of Suttle's incomplete reporting may be inaccurate.

Hopefully we'll get all the info at some point.


Anonymous said...

Why does David Sokol snub Jim Vokal?
10 grand to Hal and 10 grand to Suttle and a measly $500 to Jimmy V?
Might have well not given anything as that was a slap in the face. Vokal should give it back.
Also, Sokol refused to shake Jimmy V's hand at the groundbreaking ceremony for the ballpark (in which, incidently, Sokol could not be bothered to stick around for the photos and dirt-moving).
Does the guy with the most money always win an election? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Whoops forgot to sign that one;;;

ricky from omaha

Anonymous said...

OMG! Can Vokal really w/draw from mayor's race and run for city council again? I was banking on him losing the primary or for sure the general and going away forever. No, I'm not a Daub or Suttle backer or even a Democrat or Republican. I just live in Vokal's district. To me, he ducks controversy at every bend in the road and wimps out!

Street Sweeper said...

Deadline for an incumbent to file for City Council is February 17.
Primary is April 7.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Keep on trying to spin it for Vokal, Sweeper. There isn't any good news in here for him.

Street Sweeper said...

OK, I'll bite: How on Earth do you see a spin for Vokal in that post?
Did you forget your medication today, again?

Anonymous said...

Vokal still has time to salvage his political career!

Anonymous said...

Bad for Daub = good for Vokal. You pump up Suttle here to try to gain ground for Vokal.

Somehow you're interpreting a commanding fundraising lead as though someone were breathing down Daub's neck. It ain't happening.

In LESS time, not more (Suttle and Vokal both inherited their city council purses and were raising money from Jan 1 on - Daub didn't start until May) Daub has raised twice as much as Vokal, 33% more than Suttle.

Street Sweeper said...

Wow. I hope you were sporting a parachute when you made that leap.

You're a glass-half-empty type, aren't you? When someone says they like your shirt, you want to know why they hate your pants, right?

Well, all I would point out is that COH makes a difference. What's in the bank right now matters. To think otherwise is sillyness.

The advantage Daub does have is that his past fundraising would indicate that he can keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Why do you say Daub has "Over $300,000" to Suttle's "$247,000" when KETV, KMTV, and the World-Herald are reporting the accurate amount Daub has, $325,000? Downplay much?

Any why then do you follow it breathlessly with the caveat, "But wait, folks! Suttle's right behind him! It's closer than you think! And can you believe what Daub spent his money on?"

You point out only the negatives when it comes to Daub. You miss all the positives. Here's one: Daub spent $ in 2008 that the other campaigns will have to spend in 2009.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone want to guess how different the tone of this blog entry would be if it hadn't been Daub that LAPPED Vokal in fundraising, but the other way around?

Sure, Daub was expected to raise more, but TWICE as much?

And Daub has the name ID advantage, so ad money is critical to Vokal and Suttle.

Street Sweeper said...

Bicker much?

Well, then ALL the stations got it wrong, didn't they! The REAL amount Daub raised is $320,733.62! Ha! So there! Nyah nyah!

(Not to mention, we note HOW MUCH MORE he raised than his opponents, which is an even better gauge.)


Uh, and when you look at their COH, Daub and Suttle are neck and neck, or am I the only one who can read?

And as far as I could tell, Daub's report did NOT include costs for producing commercials or for the spend on them. And we noted that.

Now if that's wrong, we'd be happy to correct it. Until then, what we wrote is accurate.

Oh, and I really like your shirt. (See above comment for context.)

Anonymous said...

$325,000. In-Kinds.

Street Sweeper said...

(Now you're counting in-kinds from staff? Oh brother. How about "atta-boys"?)

Well, IKs were only $3,860.40. So that only bring it to $324,594.02.

So, once again, "over $300K" works.

Ya know, Hal isn't a whiner, why are you guys?

Anonymous said...

Right. $325,000.

It's not a big deal. I think we're exposing a nerve here, though.

Can you just admit you're wrong?

Street Sweeper said...

Uh, no, I was very much correct.
Can you admit you're anal?

macdaddy said...

Dangit, SS. Why'd you have to post this so early in the day? I wanted to be first to accuse you of being in the tank for Vokal, but some anony beat me to it. Rats. It was obvious to me who you're pulling for because you mentioned Vokal. But we're on to your Jedi mind-tricks and you will neve...Oh, look! A squirrel!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Millard Voter said...

2 questions for Blumenthal??? 1) Do you feel that OPS was wrong in trying to take over the Millard and Elkhorn School Districts? 2) Do you support the Learning community's use of the common levy?

Now answer truthfully, because you will never know when or where you will be asked this in public!!!

Anonymous said...

Can the Blumenthal/Stothert poodles please wait for a Blumenthal/Stothert post before nipping at each other? None of the rest of us want to read it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Vokal is smoking Daub in number of Facebook supporters! Isn't that Tower's only job over there?

Anonymous said...

First, all of these reports are at least 31 days old. The way the timing is set up, candidate can 'hide' for lack of a better word spending AND contributions until the next report which isn't due until March 9th. there will be a LOT of action between now and then.

The thing I note is that it is Suttle who is in trouble. He is the only legit Dem candidate in a supposedly now Dem city, there isn't a person in the city who hasn't known he has been campaigning for mayor for the last three years, and he is where he is. Not good.

We'll see what the next round of reports say. Until then, enjoy speculating.

3rd floor watcher said...

Yup you Vokalites have more Facebook friends (Scott Kleeb had more than Johanns too!!), but Hal is beating you in the polls and in fundraising 2 to 1. Hmmm...Tower and Brinker must be doing something right!!!!

Anonymous said...

Facebook friends don't (typically) contribute the big $ OR show up at the polls to vote -- especially in a May election. I.e., who cares how many Facebook friends Jim Vokal has!?!

Anonymous said...

Dang. I have more Facebook friends than Vokal. Why didn't someone tell me that would win me the race? I would have gotten in.

Anonymous said...

3rd floor watcher, You seems to be privy to Daubs 'polls' Would you mind sharing that information with us since his campaign has been so tight lipped about it?

Anonymous said...

Sorry I don't kiss and tell Anonymous. I did give you the non-Daub poll numbers 2 weeks ago, BUDDY!!!! lol

3rd floor watcher said...

Whoops the last post was me!!!

Anonymous said...

3rd floor,

I want a POLL not a 'poll' Not just some random guy spouting off numbers. So if your 'contacts' in the daub campaign are that close, I would recommend them releasing the poll numbers if daub is commanding such a 'huge' lead.

Anonymous said...

Reports are up, and not only did Blumenthal outraise Jean Stothert, but Stothert's total includes a contribution from....

Wait for it.....


Are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...

Hey, did everyone read about Omaha's esteemed president of the Omaha Professional Firefighters Local 385 Union, Darren Bates?? Guess we can see why he was fighting for such high pension money for firefighters!!

Anonymous said...

That's funny about Blumenthal raising more than Stothert. Take out the $9,000+ Blumenthal put in himself and it isn't close.

Someone stated earlier that the first reports are misleading. Let's wait and see where they are next report. I've heard Stothert is killing it raising money. Looks to me like Blumenthal'slow hanging fruit is about out.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure she's killing it - she's even taking money from the Baird Holm devils!

Anonymous said...

LOL That same "of Counsel" attorney gave Blumenthal 40% more, his largest contributor other than himself.

So, if taking money from that individual is a bad thing, Blumenthal is 40% worse for taking that contribution.

Keep grasping at straws, while your candidate keeps imploding. Nice act at Millard South last weekend. When's the next melt down?

in the know said...

Last time I looked Daub has 3 facebook pages. Between the 3 he has 231 supporters. :)

Anonymous said...

Darren Bates is pretty tight with Lee Terry and the Lee Terry office people, right? Wonder if they're surprised.

know it all said...

Yeah, should we go to Millard West, Millard North or Elkhorn to see Jon implode once again and embarrass himself and his poor family.

Anonymous said...

<<---- Still waiting on 3rd floor's poll numbers....

3rd floor watcher said...

I am not a professional pollster, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night...lol One would be foolish to assume that because Daub has not released anything that he is in a weak position. Brinker has done a good job keeping the campaign focused and on message. If you want Hal's numbers so bad, stop by his office Saturday at the Open House and ask him yourself. I may even stop by as well...I will be the one wearing the Daub sticker!!!

Anonymous said...

Again, Hal's numbers might have been good when he shelled out 16K for a poll this summer, but have obviously taken a turn for the worse.

His TV campaign is clearly a response to a surge from Vokal. Why else would you rush an ad with old stock photos and even older footage on the air on a Friday? Well, because you have to get up as fast as you can to stop the bleeding.

There is simply no other explanation. With less than $150K in the bank, there is NO WAY Hal wanted to be on TV now, but Vokal forced his hand.

concerned taxpayer said...

It's funny how the Vokal Camp is trying to minimize Daub's commanding lead in the Mayor's race. Vokal was asleep at the switch on this pension mess for the past 8 years and now he wants show leadership on the issue. Jim you have placed this city in a financial hole by deffering financial obligations and required purchases so you can be elected mayor. The public wont be fooled!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:34,

Vokal's been off the air for two weeks. He's broke. You think Hal's worried about him?

Anonymous said...

Hey SS, you think Suttle and Daub videos are bad? What about your boy Vokal's video on pensions? It's the WORST we've seen yet. Play fair you anonymous blogger. But that's probably impossible for you.

Street Sweeper said...

First of all, we have no "boy".

Second of all, try reading our latest post, jackass.


Anonymous said...

Hey Street Sweeper -- now that the financial disclosure forms are completely posted online, where's that in-depth analysis you promised?

No, you're right. Better to move on. This isn't a good topic for Vokal.

Street Sweeper said...

What you see is what you get, from us.

We already had Daub's and Vokal's sent to us. Suttle's was the one which we couldn't discern (and still can't) whether the NADC version is complete.

If there's something you'd like to point out on any of them, have at it.

We never promised anything more, unless there's something we missed from Suttle's report.

Anonymous said...

"[Update 2/3/09, 2:00pm
It's unclear to us how complete the documents on the NADC site are. For that reason, for now we hold off on any criticism where a report looks to be incomplete.]"

Street Sweeper said...

Has Suttle's report changed, that we haven't mentioned?