Five takeaways from the latest GOP campaign disclosures in Utah’s special congressional election

Celeste Maloy, Becky Edwards and Bruce Hough all qualified for the Republican special primary in September.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A voter drops his ballot in the drop box at Murray City Hall, on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. The three Utah Republicans running in the Sept. 5, 2023, special primary congressional election have raised more than $600,000 in the first quarter of the race.

News of Rep. Chris Stewart’s plans to retire from Congress set off a three-week mad dash by nearly a dozen Republicans to qualify for the September primary. The trio of Republicans who will be on that ballot raised more than $600,000, according to campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Campaign cash

Becky Edwards was the first Republican to start campaigning for Stewart’s soon-to-be vacant seat, registering her campaign with the Federal Election Commission just days after news of his departure broke. She reported just over $207,000 in contributions from individuals, most from in-state donors.

GOP convention winner Celeste Maloy pulled in just over $72,000 in donations, with just over $50,000 coming from individuals. The largest chunk of Maloy’s campaign cash came from Utahns, which comprised about a third of the total.

The remaining $22,000 in donations to Maloy came from political action committees, including $15,000 from Value In Electing Women, or VIEW PAC, which was formed to help elect Republican women to federal office.

Bruce Hough reported a little less than $60,000 in donations to his campaign, nearly all from in-state contributors.

Campaign debt and personal loans

Maloy’s campaign finished June with nearly as much campaign debt as she has cash on hand. Maloy reported $41,490 in cash and $41,432 in outstanding debt. Maloy owes Texas-based KAP Strategies nearly $25,000 for campaign management and more than $10,000 for website design and software services.

Bruce Hough loaned his campaign just over $200,000. That loan accounts for more than 75% of the total donations to his campaign.

Becky Edwards added $100,000 of her own money to the District 2 race. That’s on top of the $527,000 she loaned her 2022 U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Mike Lee.

Paying for signatures

Edwards and Hough qualified for the ballot by submitting 7,000 signatures from registered Republican voters in the 2nd District. Gathering those signatures did not come cheap.

Edwards supplemented her volunteer effort with paid signature gatherers. Edwards used Utah-based Landslide Political for signature gathering, which cost $31,700. Her campaign also listed $2,948 in payments to individuals for signature gathering.

Hough reported paying a professional signature-gathering firm $167,000 to secure his spot on the ballot, which is nearly $24 per signature.

Prominent donors

Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his wife Tammy each donated the maximum amount of $9,900 to Edwards’ campaign. Edwards’ husband, John, is the son of former BYU football Coach LaVell Edwards. Reid played for Edwards and later was a graduate assistant coach on his staff.

Emmy Award-winning dancer and actor Derek Hough made a pair of donations to his father’s campaign totaling $4,130. In the June report, his sister and fellow professional entertainer Julianne was not listed among the contributors to Hough’s campaign.

The also-rans

Eight Republican candidates were knocked out of the race at the GOP convention in Delta last month. Most did not file financial disclosures because they didn’t raise or spend above the $5,000 FEC threshold for reporting.

Former House Speaker Greg Hughes raised more than $107,000 in his losing effort. Hughes banked maximum contributions from House Speaker Brad Wilson, House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, and their spouses. Those contributions were among the $44,000 refunded following Hughes’ convention loss to Maloy.

Over half of the nearly $46,000 raised by economics professor Henry Eyring during his three-week campaign came from donors in California. He listed two expenditures during the reporting period related to a local television ad buy on Fox News. Eyring paid $7,000 to produce the commercial and $7,600 for the airtime.

Leeds Mayor Bill Hoster reported just over $22,000 in donations to his campaign, but most of those were in-kind donations from a Nevada campaign firm linked to the far-right Proud Boys militia. Just four people donated a total of $3,000 to his campaign.