Caroline Simmons, Bobby Valentine raised more than $1.2M in Stamford mayoral race. What did they spend it on?

STAMFORD — The city’s candidates for mayor raised a combined total of about $1.4 million as of the week before Election Day, with Caroline Simmons and Bobby Valentine accounting for the vast majority of the total.

Simmons, a Democrat and now Stamford’s mayor-elect, and Valentine, a former Major League Baseball manager who ran as an unaffiliated candidate, together raised more than $1.2 million as of Oct. 24 — more than all the candidates for mayor had raised as of late October 2013. The price tag for that race ended up being about $1.3 million, which was a record for the city.

In the final stretch of this year’s race, Simmons loaned $150,000 of her own money to her campaign. Her contribution was not unusual: Other mayoral candidates in Stamford have personally loaned money to their campaigns in the past. Now-Mayor David Martin loaned $75,000 to his campaign ahead of the election in 2013. The Republican candidate then, Michael Fedele, loaned his own campaign $50,000.

“Caroline wanted to ensure her campaign had the necessary resources to communicate with voters about what was at stake during this election, and specifically her vision for moving Stamford forward through improvements to local infrastructure, investing in education and partnering with local small businesses,” Simmons’ campaign manager, Lauren Meyer, said in a statement.

With her loan included, Simmons’ campaign raised about $682,000 between February and late October, according to a campaign finance disclosure statement. She pulled in about $519,000 from individual contributors and $11,600 from more than a dozen political committees, including the PACs of a number of labor unions and state legislative leaders.

Valentine raised about $565,000 between the end of April and late October, with nearly all of the money coming from individual contributors, according to a disclosure statement.

Martin, who sought reelection this year but lost to Simmons in the Democratic primary, raised about $152,000. He received about $86,000 in contributions from individuals and also loaned his campaign $65,000, according to totals provided by campaign staff.

More campaign finance filings from the candidates are due in the coming weeks.

Joe Corsello, who was endorsed by the Stamford Republican Town Committee in July but dropped out of the race in September, never filed a campaign finance disclosure statement.

More than 1,900 individuals, including almost 1,200 Stamford residents, contributed to Valentine’s bid, campaign manager Dan Miller said. Residents pitched in a total of about $267,000.

Simmons received contributions from a total of about 1,300 individuals, including about 580 Stamford residents who together gave more than $163,000, Meyer said.

The high-profile race also drew money from figures in national politics, sports and entertainment.

Valentine’s contributors included former President George W. Bush, who was managing general partner of the Texas Rangers during Valentine’s time as the team’s manager, and Larry Lucchino, who was the president and CEO of the Red Sox when Valentine managed the team.

Simmons received contributions from Janet Napolitano, who was the secretary of Homeland Security when Simmons worked at the federal department, and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Also among her contributors were Michael Douglas, Bette Midler and Rita Wilson.

Mayoral candidates can receive up to $1,000 per individual contributor. If a candidate is in a primary, as Simmons was in September, a person can give up to $1,000 to the candidate again for the general election. Meyer said that 75 people “maxed out” twice in making contributions to Simmons.

Simmons had about $147,000 on hand at the beginning of October. She received about $97,000 in contributions from individuals during the first three weeks of the month plus $3,500 from political committees. The campaign received her loan on Oct. 8.

With about $252,000 in expenditures over three weeks, Simmons had about $147,000 on hand as of the week before Election Day.

“All campaigns execute based on a plan for expenditures and receipts, and ours was no different,” Meyer said. “Our plan was to leave everything on the field and spend every last dollar we raised to communicate with voters.”

Meanwhile, Valentine started October with about $348,000 on hand. He brought in about $45,000 from individual contributors over the first three weeks of the month. His campaign spent about $238,000 during that time, leaving him with about $155,000 on hand. The campaign also had nearly $58,000 in outstanding expenses.

The Simmons campaign reported paying Bryson Gillette, a consulting firm based in Los Angeles, about $128,000 during the first three weeks of October for consulting and advertising, including mailers and digital ads. The campaign also made nearly $52,000 in payments to Chicago-based AL Media for television advertising.

Valentine’s campaign paid Stamford company MailDirect Advertising about $40,000 from Oct. 1 to 24, according to its filing. The campaign also reported paying almost $42,000 for postage expenses. It paid Ferocious Media in Westport about $27,500 for web advertising and Altice a4 Advertising in New York about $17,000 for web and TV advertising.

About two weeks before Election Day, as the race was becoming more and more heated, Valentine posted to his Facebook page a flyer for a Simmons fundraiser at the home of state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford. Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz was billed as a “special guest” for the event.

“Politics as usual,” Valentine’s post read. “Our opponent is hosting another fundraiser in Hartford, asking Lobbyists and Political Action Committees to contribute $$$ to support her campaign in Stamford. What favors will she owe them?!?!”

Of the events listed in Simmons’ campaign finance disclosure statements, the only fundraiser to take place in the Hartford area was the one at Gilchrest’s home. The campaign reported receiving dozens of contributions in connection to the event, some of which were from lobbyists, who gave no more than $100 each.

In addition, five lobbying firms and a trade group for insurers purchased advertising space in a program book, paying $250 each.

Both campaigns reported receiving in-kind donations in the form of food and beverages provided by the hosts of house gatherings. The Valentine campaign logged more than $12,000 in such donations through Oct. 24. The Simmons campaign reported receiving about $1,800 in such donations.

brianna.gurciullo@hearstmediact.com