Campaign finance reports can often paint an interesting, personality portrait of a candidate. They disclose contributions from those who help bankroll a campaign and to whom the candidate might be beholden.
At this stage of the bitter battle between incumbent Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and challenger Lt. Chad Bianco, it is widely known that Bianco has the unbridled support of unions – at least their leadership. Rank and file of police officers associations did not have a vote in most instances.
Since 2017, the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association (RSA) has pumped more than $1 million into Bianco’s campaign war chest, which most recently includes a slate mailer on Oct. 12 valued at $29,200 and a $100,000 contribution on Oct. 9.
The Corona Police Officers Association doled out another $2,500 bringing its total contributions to $7,500 for Bianco’s campaign.
The Service Employees International Union Local contributed $10,000. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union 440 also funneled $1,000 cash into the Bianco camp during the latest reporting period.
Beyond money, what does the union support really mean? No union can promise 100 percent support for its endorsed candidate, perhaps not even close to 100 percent of its membership. It means cash and perhaps boots on the ground.
Steven L. Fuchs, a former attorney and adjunct professor at College of the Desert who teaches business law and government, told Uken Report, “Bianco appears to have widespread union support, so taxpayers may reasonably expect the costs of a Bianco department to exceed those of a Sniff department.”
That could pose a problem, especially at a time when the county executive officer has called for fiscal discipline.
Bianco has a smattering of support outside unions from physicians, some employees of the Riverside Sheriff’s Office, the dean of College of the Desert, former Sheriff Bob Doyle and the owner of an off-road vehicle company in Riverside.
For the final days of the campaign, Bianco reported having a $22,869 cash balance left from contributions.
For the final push of the campaign, Sniff reported having a cash balance of $66,000, three times that of Bianco.
Sniff’s campaign finance reports show a man who has broad-based support. Among his donors are those who have contributed as little as $99 to as much as $16,000. His contributions are drawn from a wide pool of supporters, including those in his department. Among his supporters are captains, undersheriffs, assistant sheriffs and more, an indication that the RSA does not speak for them.
The portrait that emerges is one of a man who appeals to everyone from a housewife and farmer to attorneys and the president of U.S. Precision Sheet Metal.
Sniff has also received financial support from former Palm Springs Police Chief Lee Weigel and the Coachella Valley Lincoln Club.
He also snagged the generosity of one of the most coveted donors of the Coachella Valley, Harold Matzner, chairman and CEO of Spencer’s Restaurant in Palm Springs. Matzner, known for offering last-minute infusions of cash to his preferred candidate, contributed $15,000 to Sniff on Oct. 26.
The latest campaign statements cover the period Sept. 23 through Oct. 20. Statements were filed Thursday, Oct. 25.