Financial disclosures show that the governor’s campaign spent more than $120,000 on investigating a former campaign manager accused of sexual misconduct.
Governor Spencer Cox raised more than $800,000 in campaign contributions during his first year in office, much more than his predecessors earned during the non-election years.
And while Cox’s campaign raised a lot of money in 2021, they also spent a significant amount, including more than $120,000 on an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the former campaign manager.
Cox’s end-of-year 2021 financial disclosure provided this week showed that his campaign raised $809,612.82 last year, while also spending $671,556.62. Overall, his campaign raised $138,056.20, leaving wallets with just over $650,000 in his campaign account.
For his 2020 election, Cox contributions totaled just over $4 million. Cox was in a competitive primary against three Republican challengers. Former Governor Gary Herbert raised $2.3 million for his 2012 campaign and $3.4 million for 2016. Former Governor Jon Huntsman raised $935,354 for his 2008 election.
Fundraising in the non-electoral year for both Huntsman and Herbert declined significantly. In 2009, the Huntsman campaign raised $374,159. Out-of-year fundraiser Herbert was anemic. For example, for 2015, the then-governor raised only $12 in campaign money. Herbert’s major fundraising work in the no-campaign years was through his leadership of the PAC.
Cox’s campaign does not have a state-registered PAC.
Where does the money come from?
Most of Cox’s donations came from corporate entities, amounting to more than $511 thousand. Corporate giving was just over 60 percent of all contributions to the Portfolio Campaign Fund.
The next most important source of campaign money came from individual donors, who represented nearly $175,000, or about 22 percent of the total.
The rest of the donations were from political action committees and industrial groups. Those organizations gave just under $145,000 to Cox, or about 18 percent.
The largest corporate donation to Cox came from Zions Bancorporation with $50,000. Deseret Power and Price Realty Group each contributed $25,000, while Reagan Outdoor Advertising sent $20,000 to the campaign.
The Dominion Committee for Political Action, the political arm of Dominion Energy, was the largest contribution to PAC, with Cox providing $25,000.
Scott Anderson, president of Zion Bank, and businessman Jill Miller were the most generous individual donors. Miller gave $30,000 while Anderson donated $25,000.
How did they spend the money?
A large portion of the expenses reported by Cox’s campaign had to do with pomp, the circumstances surrounding his inauguration, and expenses related to fundraising.
Cox spent about $65,000 at his inauguration in January 2021 at the Tushan Coliseum in Ivins.
In November, the bill for Cox’s fundraiser at the Grand America Hotel was nearly $145,000. This included $55,000 for entertainment, comedian Nate Bargatze. Single tickets for this event cost $650. The cost of care is up to $25,000.
An October fundraising event at the Talisker Club in Park City cost nearly $26,000. Cox’s campaign also spent just under $31,000 on gifts throughout the year.
Campaign manager controversy
Late last year, Cox’s campaign was shaken when longtime ally Austin Cox, who ran Cox’s winning 2020 campaign, abruptly resigned after accusations of sexual misconduct.
Spencer Cox announced an investigation into Austin Cox’s tenure, which revealed “previously unreported hostile behavior” toward other campaign staff.
Financial disclosures reveal that Cox’s campaign paid $100,000 to AC Strategies, Austin Cox’s consulting firm, in 2021. The total included a $40,000 payment in January, plus $5,000 a month. On October 1, just days before Austin resigned, the campaign paid AC Strategies $20,000 for “advisory services and fundraising fees” that Austin had not billed to the campaign.
The disclosures also show that $121,288 was paid to Ballard Spahr in “legal fees” on December 20. The expenses are related to the investigation of the allegations surrounding Austin.
Cox’s campaign does not have any staff, leaving The Salt Lake Tribune with no way to obtain comment on Cox’s campaign finances. Austin Cox could also not be reached for comment.