So earlier this week, in preparation for our epic cover story, we watched state Sen. Stacey Campfield and Knox County Commissioner Dr. Richard Briggs go at it on WATE’s Tennessee This Week. At one point Briggs said that “95 to 98 percent” of his campaign donations came from Knox County, which we felt pretty sure wasn’t true, but we didn’t have time right then to figure it out. But we did tweet about it, wondering if any other reporters had tallied it up.
It turns out no one had. But luckily for us—and for you voters—Metro Pulse has some awesome fans who study political science and wanted to find out the information for themselves. Make that one awesome fan, Chris Acuff, who tallied up all the campaign finance data available on the state website and found some very interesting things.
First of all, we were correct: 95 percent of Briggs’ donations do not come from Knox County. About 81 percent of Briggs’ donors are from the county, and their donations make up about 78 percent of the almost $210,000 he’s raised to date.
But Acuff didn’t just tally up Brigg’s donation base, he tallied up Campfield’s too. And here’s what’s really amazing—only 36 percent of Campfield’s donors—for only 20 percent of his total donations—are from the county he represents.
So where’s his money coming from? Political action committees, either via straight-up donations from the PAC, or funneled through other candidates’ accounts. And although only 33 percent of Campfield’s donors are PACs or other candidates, 64 percent of his funds come from those donors. In comparison, less than 11 percent of Briggs’s donations are PAC- or candidate-related.
But, wait, there’s more! Acuff didn’t just run the numbers for this campaign, he ran it for the rest of Campfield’s data too. It turns out that Campfield, who has vocally stated throughout his career that he doesn’t accept money from PACs, has taken in
$109,364 $67,825* from 58 different PACs since 2003. He’s also taken in $38,030 from 55 other candidates, most of whom (if not all) were receiving PAC money themselves.
Want to run the numbers yourself? Here are the spreadsheets Acuff sent us—one covering Campfield and Briggs from 2013 through the most recent report, and the other covering Campfield since 2003. And if you see any fun data points we missed, do let us know …
*Whoops. We added the aggregate totals, which counted some donations more than once. Sometimes we are bad at spreadsheets.