They claim to be representing the citizens. You tell us.
Cecil Pendergrass has raised an amazing $216,408 for a campaign with only write-in candidate Karen Watson opposing him on November 8. Brian Hamman has raised $199,279 with only write-in candidate Jim Sheets opposing him in November.
Myth #1: Pendergrass often rebuts criticisms of the overwhelming amount of dollars he takes from developers and their minions by pointing out that most contributors to his campaign are actually small donors.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Since April 2021 when he started soliciting funds for his 2022 campaign, Pendergrass has reported 453 donations. Of these, 93 people gave $25 or less; and of these, 73 people gave all of $1.00each. Small donors giving $25 or less actually comprised only one in five contributors. If we include those giving $50 or less, that percentage is less than 25%.
Let’s look at Brian Hamman’s donations. Hamman does not have such pretensions — and indeed he shouldn’t. Since November 2021, 316 donors have contributed to his campaign. Of the 316, just SEVEN – yes, seven – people have contributed $25 or less (2.2%) and another eight gave $50 or less (these two categories make up 4.7% of Hamman’s donors). The rest: big money and donations from just about every developer and developer–connected entity in the county.
Obviously, neither of these two candidates feels the need to appeal to the everyday residents of Lee County. And one just repeats the canard that he has many small donors when the facts prove otherwise. Since qualifying in June, write-in candidate Jim Sheets has raised — $0. The second write-in candidate, Karen Watson, has raised almost $4000, $1000 of which came from Women For a Better Lee PAC. Campaign donations can be viewed here.
Myth #2: Commissioners Pendergrass and Hamman assert that where their campaign funds come from does not impact how they vote. With $7 out of every $10 in campaign donations to these candidates from developers and their cronies, can we really believe that? Especially after we see the pace of development and sprawl increase in the county?
What does this say about our county – and us?
Special interests rule this county because its political system has embedded these interests deep into how the county works – a “structural corruption,” of sorts. Not money changing hands, but rather a sleek, well-tuned initiative to embed favoritism into the system. Everything from county ordinances and regulations, to limiting time for public comment, to negotiating legal settlements favoring developers, to discounted impact fees for new houses tilts towards special interests, who, in turn, keep those in power in power.
Who is left out? Ordinary, everyday Lee County residents – like us.
You, the voter, can send a message. There are two write-in candidates: Jim Sheets in District 4 and Karen Watson in District 2. We urge you to use your pencils when filling out your ballot.
Women For a Better Lee is a nonpartisan, all-volunteer political action committee working to bring accountability and transparency to our Lee County Commission and government.
WFBLPAC is not authorized by any candidate or any candidate’s committee and donations are not tax deductible. Donations to WFBLPAC can be made via http://paypal.com (our PayPal account is WFBLPAC@gmail.com).
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