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Follow The Money: Self-Financing A Campaign

This year is expected to be a record-breaker in political spending across San Diego. In a new series, Ryann Grochowski, a data journalist with our partner Investigative Newsource, is taking you through the ins and outs of local campaign finance.

Special Feature KPBS Election Coverage

Candidates in some of San Diego’s most contested elections have already loaned and donated to their campaign large sums of money. Self-loans and donations are good ways to increase a campaign’s bottom line, but there’s key differences between the two practices.

Special Feature San Diego Mayor's Race

Candidates in some of San Diego’s most contested elections have already loaned and donated to their campaign large sums of money. Self-loans and donations are good ways to increase a campaign’s bottom line, but there’s key differences between the two practices.

Q: What are they?

A: When a candidate loans himself money, he expects to raise enough to pay himself back. When he donates money, that’s money he doesn’t expect to recoup. Also, candidates running for office in San Diego can lend themselves only $100,000 at a time, but there’s no limit on how much they can donate to themselves.

Q: Why do candidates give themselves money?

A: There could be a number of reasons. The candidate could simply need the extra money for campaign expenses. But political analysts also say it’s a matter of perception. If it looks like you have a lot of cash in your campaign coffers, you look successful and, thus, you’ll raise more from donors.

Q: Who’s doing this in local races?

A: Carl DeMaio, who’s running for mayor, has already lent and donated quite a bit to himself. He’s donated to his campaign about $390,000 as of March. He’s lent himself around $110,000, but has paid about half of that back.

DeMaio’s competitors have pitched into their campaigns, too, just on a smaller scale. Bonnie Dumanis has lent her campaign $10,000 and Nathan Fletcher has donated to himself $500.

As far as perception goes, the mayor’s race is a good example. In raw numbers, Carl DeMaio has raised the most money in the mayor’s race. But if you take away what’s he’s given to himself, Nathan Fletcher’s actually raised more outside cash.

If you’d like to look up any city candidate’s campaign finance filings, you could do so at http://static.netfile.com/agency/csd/.

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