Bloomington citizens curious about whose interests their mayor has been serving the past couple years should peruse his campaign finance reports. They'll learn that over the 17-month period ending last May 7, John Fernandez raised money for his Secretary of State campaign at an average of nearly $40,000 per month.
According to CFA-4 reports filed by the "Friends of Mayor John Fernandez," the mayor had raised $662,886 in campaign contributions for his Secretary of State bid. That's $65,650 more than current Secretary of State Sue Ann Gilroy had raised by that reporting period in 1998.
Fernandez' average monthly take in campaign contributions was $38,981 per month, more than most American families earn in a year. The median annual income for American families was $42,228 in 2001, according to U.S. Census data.
There's good reason why Fernandez and state Democrats are putting so much energy into an insignificant, historically Republican office. For the first time in 20 years, the Secretary of State race heads the ticket. There is no U.S. Senate race this year.
That makes John Fernandez the face of the Democratic Party in this year's election, which puts his reputation on the line. The last Democrat who attempted to duplicate Evan Bayh's successful use of the Secretary of State office as a launching pad to higher office, Joe Hogsett, lost in 1990 and has not been heard from since.
In an article published in the Kokomo Tribune last week, Fernandez suggested that's exactly how he sees the Secretary of State race - a prelude to bigger and better political spoils, a stepping stone, as it were. When the paper asked if they expected to serve a full term if elected, Republican Todd Rokita said yes, and Fernandez hedged:
"It's certainly my intention [to serve all four years]," the Tribune quoted Fernandez. "I don't anticipate [taking another job], but I don't want to get ahead of myself. I just want to win the election, and let the future take care of itself."
Those who watched Mayor Fernandez' loyalties shift after developers began pumping tens of thousands of dollars into his campaign coffers after his 1995 election have long suspected a similar dynamic is at work with Candidate Fernandez. And data from his campaign finance reports suggest that his loyalty these days is to big-buck state Democratic funders.
As the following breakdown shows, less than half of the $287,886 Fernandez raised during last spring came from individuals:
$127,769 - Individuals - 44%
$57,923 - Corporations - 20%
$39,179 - Other Organizations - 14%
$35,400 - Labor Unions - 12%
$28,615 - Political Action Committees - 10%
CFA-11 "Large Contribution" reports must be filed whenever a candidate for elective office receives contributions of $1,000 or more. Fernandez' reports show that he received $37,500 in such contributions between Jan. 1 and May 7 from 22 separate contributors in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Only one of those large contributions came from a Bloomington supporter. Grossman Realty, 1011 W. Second Street, contributed $1,000. That address is actually the Eye Center, which is owned by Dr. Dan Grossman, a longtime financial supporter of Republican Party candidates.
Seventeen of Fernandez' 22 large contributions came from state labor organizations, including:
- AFSCME PAC, Indianapolis -- $5,000
- Sheet Metal Workers Local 20, Indianapolis -- $4,900
- Indiana State Council of Machinists, Indianapolis - $2,500
- Laborers State of IN District Council, Terre Haute -- $2,000
- Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 157, Terre Haute -- $2,000
- Southwest Indiana Building & Construction Trades, Evansville - $1,000
- Labor locals from Evansville, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, New Albany, Bloomington, South Bend, Lafayette, Fort Wayne, Muncie, Richmond, Valparaiso, and Hammond - $1,000 to $2,000.
About 28 percent of the 70 "Contributions by Corporations" reported by Fernandez' committee during the first five months of this year came from Bloomington businesses. The list is dominated by construction, engineering, property management, health care, and other vested interests. They include:
- Weddle Brothers Construction - $5,000
- Davis Automotive of Indiana - $5,000
- ISU/The May Agency - $5,000
- Bynum Fanyo & Associates - $3,500
- Abodes Management Construction - $2,500
- Crider & Crider - $2,500
- Big Red Liquors - $1,000
- Blackwell Construction - $1,000
- PTS Corp. - $1,000
- St. John Associates - $1,000
- T.I.S. - $1,000
- Bloomington Bagel Company - $500
- Bloomington Home Builders - $250
- Daniel Berg, M.D. - $250
- Health Care Corporation - $250
- Indiana Home Health Care - $250
- MAR-CARE - $250
- Darrell O. Dennis Golf Professional - $100
- Thomas Coombes Associates - $75
Non-local contributors include:
- Rogers Group, Nashville - $5,000
- Burgess & Niple, Indianapolis - $2,000
- Old National Bank, Evansville - $1,323
- FAMCO Inc., Terre Haute - $1,200
- Dumes Inc., Vincennes - $1,000
- F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co., IndIanapolis - $1,000
- Jamad Corp., Lexington, Ky. - $1,000
- Pyramid Architecture/Engineering & Construction - $1,000
- Indianapolis Railroad Co., Indianapolis - $1,000
- Trueblood Oil Co., Farmersburg - $1,000
- Herman & Associates , Indianapolis -- $750
- Anthem Inc., Cincinnati - $500
- Dennis Trucking Company, Terre Haute - $500
- Arnet Health Plans, Lafayette - $500
- Bristol Myers Squibb - Princeton - $300
The Indiana Campaign Finance Database - ... - contains a wealth of information for citizens wanting to know who is financing the campaigns of candidates for statewide office. To find Fernandez' contributors, go to:
Friends of Mayor Fernandez - www.indianacampaignfinance.com/Committees/Com_Reports.asp?Comm=4669&Type=CAN
The May 14, 2002, links to the CFA-4 Report page and has buttons at the top that link to the following specific reports:
- A-1 - Contributions by individuals
- A-2 - Contributions by corporations
- A-3 - Contributions by labor organizations
- A-4 - Contributions by Political Action Committees
- A-5 - Contributions by other organizations
To find campaign finance reports for other candidates, go to:
Office sought list - www.indianacampaignfinance.com/Committees/office_sought_list.asp
Candidates must file three reports each year detailing their Campaign Finance activity:
- Pre-Primary Report for activities between Jan. 1 and 25 days before the Primary election;
- Pre-Election Report for activities between 24 days before the Primary Election and 25 days before the General election; and
- Annual Report for activities between 24 days before the General Election and Dec. 31.