Bringing money into the county is something politician after politician has brought to campaigns and local government for years, and the Pasco County Commission race between Mike Moore and Erika Remsberg has been no different.
In fact, both have ideas on how to attract more jobs and higher wages to the area, as well as bring in an influx of money to help businesses grow and prosper. Yet, when it comes to their own spending habits, some might scratch their heads on how much they are willing to spend with local businesses and local people.
Since the end of February, the District 2 race to replace the retiring Pat Mulieri has raised $135,000 between the two candidates, with nearly $169,000 already spent in that period. Yet, Moore only devoted 32 percent of his total expenditures inside Pasco, while Remsberg wasn’t much better at 39 percent.
Those numbers got far worse for Moore after his primary victory over Ken Littlefield and Bob Robertson, where of the $53,500 he spent, only about $13,000 — or 19 percent — went to help Pasco businesses. Remsberg stayed consistent after the primary, $2,240, or 37 percent, locally.
Since the end of February, both candidates have sent $115,000 out of the county. That’s some $30,000 more than they want taxpayers to give them each year in salary for sitting on the dais, and enough to fund five full-time and one part-time jobs that pay $10 an hour.
“First, I was disappointed my local spending amount was so low,” Remsberg told The Laker/Lutz News in an email. “Must be because the Tarpon union printer I used was just over the border. Secondly, I think reporting the amounts donated is more important than the percentages. Given the vast difference in amounts donated to our contributions, I think percentages do not paint the picture as well as the dollar amount does.”
Twice in October, Moore had a week where he spent more than $20,000, with less than 6 percent of that going to local businesses. Instead, during those two periods, he spent $37,323 with Majority Strategies in Ponte Vedra for advertising, and nearly $3,000 with Allegra Marketing in Tampa for printing.
Even food preparation was not something Moore could find locally, spending $2,224 for food at a fundraiser, supplied by Catering by the Family in Tampa.
Remsberg also had a bad week in October where nearly 95 percent of her spending was done outside of Pasco. It was there she spent nearly $1,100 with Image Media in Tarpon Springs for printing. Before that, she had taken some of her printing work to Tampa, where she spent more than $925 with Gunn Printing in July.
Since the end of February, Moore has raised more than $123,000 in cash, far more than the $11,600 Remsberg raised over the same time. However, more than half of Moore’s donations have come from people and groups associated with real estate, development and construction.
To date, those groups have given Moore nearly $63,000 in contributions, with more than $40,000 of it coming since the primary. At the same time, Remsberg has picked up just $350 from contributors like that, all of it coming from an operating engineer union. That accounted for 3 percent of her total contributions.
“A campaign mostly financed with money from developers creates a conflict of interest when the candidate will be ruling on issues affecting those developers,” Remsberg said. “Pasco County loses significant revenues on incentives for development causing Pasco County residents to pick up the bill. We do not have enough money to fix our roads in Pasco, but we can spend money helping developers pay for the roads they are building for their own projects.”
Voters will have a chance to decide between Moore and Remsberg on Nov. 4.