District Attorney Birgit Fladager leads the pack in Stanislaus County campaign contributions

kcarlson@modbee.comMay 24, 2014 

— Stanislaus District Attorney Birgit Fladager raised more than $41,000 in the past two months for her re-election campaign, pushing her total this year above $100,000.

According to campaign disclosures posted Thursday, the district attorney has raised nearly 10 times more than her opponent, Frank Carson, a Modesto defense attorney. She received $35,397 in cash contributions and $5,770 in nonmonetary services between March 18 and May 17. Her total this year is $104,461.

Fladager has spent $70,300 in the contentious race with Carson, who has reported $14,165 in expenditures. The challenger reported $4,230 in donations for the recent two-month period, taking his total to $12,700. More than $8,100 of that are loans from himself.

In the walk-up to the June 3 election, fundraising among county office seekers has been slow compared with donations that reached well into the six figures in previous county elections. The 2010 county supervisor race between Terry Withrow and former state Agriculture Secretary Bill Lyons netted more than $420,000 in contributions for the candidates combined.

Withrow has raised slightly more than $50,000 toward his re-election, the most among the four candidates seeking two seats on the Board of Supervisors. Voters next week also will choose an assessor and sheriff.

Fladager received $2,500 from the Peace Officers Research Association of California and $1,000 each from farmers Fred and John Franzia and Joseph Franzia, co-president of Bronco Wine Co. Other $1,000 checks came from The Grupe Co., California Poultry Industry, attorney Roger Schrimp and Oakdale school board member Diane Gilbert.

Carson reported $1,000 donations each from Modesto attorneys Mary Lynn Belsher and Charles Brunn.

In the contest for the District 3 county board seat, Withrow has raised $51,916 and spent $28,794, with all of the contributions between mid-March and mid-May. Challenger Scott Calkins raised $13,806 in the two-month period to bring his total to $23,206. Calkins has spent $13,156.

Withrow received $1,500 from attorney Wilmar Jensen and $1,000 each from accountant John Bettencourt of Salida, Brichetto Cattle Co. and L.F. Brichetto Farming of Oakdale, Bronco Wine Co., Ed Maring and Del Mar Farms of Westley. Supervisors Jim DeMartini and Bill O’Brien gave $1,000 and $500, respectively, to Withrow’s campaign.

In the recent two-month period, contributions for Calkins included $2,000 from himself, $1,500 from Lynn Calkins of Encinitas, $1,000 from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association, and $500 from farmer Ronald Crum.

Modesto Councilman Dave Lopez has raised more money than Supervisor Dick Monteith in his bid to represent county District 4. Lopez’s total of $34,130 includes $31,130 amassed from mid-March to mid-May. Monteith collected $14,348 in the recent period to bring his total to $30,608. His campaign fund has received $10,000 in loans from his wife and himself.

Lopez collected $2,000 each from Ripon farmer John Vrieling, Shah Kalluri MDA LLC of Modesto, BFC Properties of Modesto and Tom VanderVeen, co-owner of Dellabarca Design Build of Manteca, plus $1,000 each from security firm owner Steven Rank, Reed Properties, attorney George Arata and land developer Carl Wesenberg.

Contributions for Monteith included $1,000 each from energy contractor James Brenda of Turlock, John Brichetto of Oakdale, Huff Construction, Carl Boyett of Boyett Petroleum, Kenneth Jelacich of Joseph Gallo Farms and Richard Evans, attorney for the city of Modesto.

Interim Assessor Don Gaekle has raised $42,000 in seeking election to the county department head position, most of it consisting of $31,000 in loans from his own pocket. His opponent, Amy Bublak, has raised $23,250.

Gaekle collected $8,064 in contributions from mid-March to mid-May, including $3,000 from Iris Gaekle, $500 from Jensen & Jensen Attorneys and $350 from Paul Caruso Investments.

In the past two months, Bublak received $2,849, with $500 each from Valley Lexus and Prime Shine Inc.

Sheriff Adam Christianson reported contributions totaling $57,833 in past the two months, plus $1,000 donations each from Beard Land Improvement Co. and Modesto & Empire Traction Co. last week. His opponent, Deputy Tom Letras, missed a deadline Thursday for filing paperwork.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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