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Rocky gets outside aid

He says progressive views have drawn national attention

Rocky Anderson has been endorsed by Govs. Mitt Romney and Bill Richardson.
Rocky Anderson has been endorsed by Govs. Mitt Romney and Bill Richardson.
Kira Horvath, Deseret Morning News

Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, while critical of "out-of towners" efforts to oust him from City Hall, is relying on a hefty sum of out-of-town and out-of-state money to help carry him to possible re-election this November.

From June 1 to Sept. 2, Anderson raised more than $187,000 for his re-election bid. Of that total, nearly $58,000 came from donors with out-of-state addresses, while another $13,000 came from Park City residents, according to campaign finance records filed at City Hall.

All told, 31 percent of Anderson's financial support from June to September came from out of state while another 6 percent came from Park City.

Other mayoral candidates have similarly accepted money from out-of-state donors but to a lesser degree.

Challenger Molonai Hola received $350 of the $25,000 he raised from June to September from out-of-state addresses. And challenger Frank Pignanelli gained $2,700 of the $67,500 he raised from out of state in the same time period.

In an interview Friday, Anderson couldn't identify where all of his out-of-state money had come from noting "we have checks coming in every day."

However, Anderson said his progressive stances on issues like the environment, human rights and drug policy may have drawn national interest and, therefore, national support.

"People that care about the environment, human rights and progressive views towards labor, they can see it does make a difference who the mayor of Salt Lake City is," he said.

Most of the out-of-state and out-of-town donations came following two fund-raisers held in Park City and Washington, D.C., earlier this year. At both fund-raisers, mayor's Dana Williams, Park City, and Anthony Williams, Washington, D.C., were on hand to help with the effort.

Beyond the cash, Anderson noted he has received national endorsements from people like Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the nation's lone Hispanic governor.

Some of Anderson's out-of-state donors have business interests in Salt Lake City, such as Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., which donated $1,500 and owns four Smith's grocery stores and a Fred Meyer in Salt Lake City.

Other donors have seemingly less direct interest.

Franklin Haney, a Chattanooga-developer who contributed large amounts to former vice-president Al Gore's presidential and senate election bids, gave $5,000 to Anderson. Haney's wife, Emeline, also gave $5,000.

Anderson described the Haneys as "very loyal Democrats," who actively support Democratic candidates nationwide.

Anderson, who attended law school at George Washington University in Washington D.C., secured the Haney's contributions during the fund-raiser in the nation's capitol.

Another donor was purse designer Melinda Gomez, Naples, Fla., whom Anderson met at the Sundance Film Festival premier of "The Day my God Died" about the slave trade of girls in India. Anderson became highly concerned about the problem when attending a world environmental summit in New Delhi last year.

Then there's Robert Abernathy of California, who donated $7,500. Anderson noted Abernathy maintains a home in Sandy, so he has some interest in Salt Lake City.

But all the outside money worries Pignanelli, who said it's hard to know what "outsiders" expect in return for their support.

"Well it's not like its nominal amounts," he said. "You've got to ask yourself why (they donated) and what do they want …. It's not illegal but you have to ask yourself what's going on here."

Anderson also expressed concern about outside influences three months ago, when two Bountiful residents organized Fed Up Utah, a political action committee designed to make sure Anderson doesn't get re-elected. The mayor noted that the "out of towners" were "trying to dictate the result of our mayoral election" and if they succeeded Salt Lake City would be "governed by a regressive voice."


E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com