John Curtis outpacing rivals in fundraising ahead of Utah GOP U.S. Senate primary

Over the last two months, donors have given the congressman more than 2.5 times the money contributed to his lead rival.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs’ pursuit of Utah’s open U.S. Senate seat got a fundraising boost after winning the nod from GOP delegates at April’s state convention, but donations to his campaign have been dwarfed by supporters of Rep. John Curtis ahead of the upcoming Republican primary election.

The latest financial disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission show Staggs raised nearly $260,000 between April 8 and June 5, with most of that money coming after he triumphed in front of party delegates. He has $375,000 on hand heading into the final stretch ahead of the June 25 primary.

Curtis, the frontrunner in the race according to a poll commissioned by his backers, raised more than two-and-a-half times as much as Staggs during the same period, pulling in just under $970,000. More than $351,000 came from the joint fundraising committee he shares with the Conservative Climate PAC and the NRCC, which is the campaign arm for House Republicans. Curtis also has more cash on hand than Staggs, with $575,000.

Staggs reeled in an endorsement from former President Donald Trump the morning of the state convention. After that endorsement, Staggs’ campaign made three $40,000 payments to American Made Media Consultants, a company created in 202 by Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law.

A complaint filed to the FEC by the Campaign Legal Center said Trump’s campaign laundered more than $600 million in campaign funds through American Made Media Consultants to companies tied to the ex-president and his family. Federal officials dismissed the complaint in 2022 after the bipartisan commission deadlocked along party lines. The Campaign Legal Center has filed suit over the dismissal.

A spokesperson for Staggs’ campaign told The Salt Lake Tribune that American Made Media bought ad time for the campaign on streaming services.

Utah’s airwaves have been blanketed with pro-Curtis advertising. Disclosures show his campaign spent more than $1 million on advertising from the first part of April to the first part of May. Since the campaign started, outside organizations have poured more than $8.4 million into the state to boost Curtis.

Brad Wilson’s fundraising has fallen off dramatically in the last couple of months. He only pulled in $27,000, the least of the four candidates in the race. His campaign spent more than $1.7 million in the last two months, including more than $1 million on advertising, but that effort did not reverse his difficulties in gaining traction with Republican voters. His campaign has not spent any money on advertising since the end of May.

Wilson has raised more than $4.7 million since last year, with loans he made to his campaign comprising $3 million of that. The former speaker of the Utah House reported having $554,000 cash on hand. Candidates can repay themselves using money from donors.

Moxie Pest Control CEO Jason Walton raised just $36,000 over the last two months, reporting 14 individual donors. Since entering the race, he has loaned his campaign $2.5 million.

Cash in other Utah congressional delegation campaigns

Of the five Republicans vying for Curtis’ seat in the 3rd Congressional District, State Sen. Mike Kennedy has raised the most money in the last two months, pulling in just under $90,000. He also has the most cash on hand, with $208,000.

Kennedy reported $6,700 in campaign donations from Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz and another $3,300 from Schultz’s wife. He also received $1,000 from the Summit County GOP.

Kennedy spent $341,000 during the reporting period, with $182,000 for advertising. He has put $160,000 of his own money into the race.

(Spenser Heaps | Pool) Candidates in the Republican primary for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District take part in a televised debate at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. From left to right are JR Bird, John Dougall, Mike Kennedy, Case Lawrence and Stewart Peay.

Trampoline park entrepreneur Case Lawrence’s campaign reported $16,000 in donations from six donors. That shouldn’t impact his operation much during the last stretch, though. Since mid-April, Lawrence has loaned his campaign more than $2.5 million, including a $100,000 loan earlier this week.

Lawrence’s campaign spent more than $1.35 million over the last two months, with the vast majority (more than $900,000) going toward advertising. He reported just $26,861 available cash.

Stewart Peay received just over $82,000 in donations, the second-most in the field, including $3,300 each from Sen. Mitt Romney and son Tagg Romney. He has $108,000 cash on hand.

Roosevelt Mayor JR Bird reported $27,000 in donations with approximately $148,000 cash on hand. He’s loaned his campaign just over $1 million.

State Auditor John Dougall raised the least money, reporting just $11,000 in donations and has $35,000 in the bank.

(Scott G Winterton | Pool) Utah’s 2nd Congressional District debate between Colby Jenkins, left, and Rep. Celeste Maloy at the KUED studios at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024.

Sen. Mike Lee’s surprise endorsement of Colby Jenkins to represent Utah’s 2nd Congressional District over incumbent Rep. Celeste Maloy helped him bring in just under $124,000 in individual donations over the last two months, slightly less than the $134,000 reported by Maloy.

However, $172,000 from political action committees supercharged Maloy’s fundraising during the same period. Maloy reported nearly $167,000 in available cash, more than double Jenkins’ $82,000.

In Utah’s 1st Congressional District, Paul Miller defeated incumbent Republican Blake Moore at the state nominating convention. Despite that victory, Moore is light years ahead of Miller in fundraising.

Moore raised $177,000 in April and May, more than 38 times the $4,600 in donations to Miller. Moore’s campaign has more than $1 million in the bank. Miller has spent more than he raised, leaving his campaign balance in the negative.

Moore has begun repaying personal loans he made to his campaign when he first ran for Congress in 2020. He’s used donor money to repay himself more than $205,000, including just over $100,000 during the most recent reporting period.

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