$5 MILLION SPENT ON FAILED GUAM GAMBLING INITIATIVE

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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Nov. 29) – Political candidates and organizations that endorsed and opposed initiative measures on Guam shelled out over US$5 million for their campaigns and a blizzard of political advertisements throughout the election period, campaign financial reports reveal.

Guam Greyhound, the proponent of the failed gambling initiative known as Prop B, emerged as the biggest spender, having dumped a total of US$1.7 million in broadcast and newspaper ads, team member compensation, and grand campaign activities.

In contrast, the opposing group Lina La Sin Casino spent US$40,200.69 of the US$59,675 funds that it had raised.

Political candidates and organizations submitted the required campaign contribution and expenditure reports to the Guam Election Commission, beating the deadline on Monday.

Reports showed that both gubernatorial teams spent a little over a million each.

The Republican team of Gov. Felix P. Camacho and his running mate Sen. Mike Cruz raised US$1,192,608 and spent US$1,147,906.

The Democratic team of former Robert Underwood and Sen. Frank Aguon used US$1,119,678 of the US$1,129,311 collected by the campaign group.

Campaign kitties were filled with donations from business groups, the candidates’ friends, relatives and supporters through frantic fundraising events.

Besides the political advertisements, the cost of running for public office included expenditures on rallies, food and refreshments, campaign materials such as T-shirts, flyers and billboards, among other things.

Guam Election Commission program coordinator Stephanie Chargualaf said the election law sets a limit on campaign contribution of US$1,000 per donor. Campaign spending is not capped though, she said.

"Sometimes candidates spend as much as they can," Chargualaf said.

Sen. Ray Tenorio, R-Yigo, was the top spender among the senatorial candidates, having spent US$164,267.35 of the US$169,849.75 that he raised.

Tenorio was followed by Senator-elect Frank Blas Jr., who raised US$85,701 and spent US$84,297.

Sen. Judi Won Pat, D-Malojloj, seemed to be the most frugal among the elected senators, reporting a total expenditure of US$3,785,73. She received US$1,266 in contributions.

Tenorio said campaign spending was necessary to communicate a candidate’s message regarding platform, legislation and community programs.

"This allows voters to make a more informative decision about their candidates, both incumbents and those vying for a new seat," Tenorio said.

"I have been fortunate to be able to receive an enormous amount of support from Guam’s electorate since I first ran for office. It is a wonderful expression of the donor’s belief in my abilities and their desire to see me continue serving Guam and our people. I appreciate that continued confidence and support in me and, in turn, will continue to serve with honor and commitment," he said.

Other senatorial candidates who made it to the top 15 spent between US$21,000 and US$57,000. Reports indicate that the amount spent on the campaign didn’t have anything to do with the candidate’s chances at winning.

Some candidates didn’t mind spending more than they could raise. Sen. Jesse A. Lujan, R-Tamuning, for example, incurred a huge deficit on his reelection bid after spending US$53,340 while receiving only US$8,919 in contributions.

Other candidates spent as much but failed to win a seat. Republican senatorial candidate Telo Terlaje spent US$50,465.42, but lost the 15th place to Lujan.

Alicia Limtiaco, who won the attorney general race, raised US$100,342 and spent US$83,551. Her rival Vern Perez spent US$92,626 of the US$86,369 in contributions that he received. Attorney General Douglas Moylan, who ran as a write-in candidate, spent US$13,313, which was the same amount of money that he raised.

Maria Gutierrez, Rossana San Miguel and Anita Manibusan didn’t bother to spend a cent but they all won their bids for the Guam Education Policy Board. Peter Alexcis Ada, now the board chairman, spent only US$380. Jose Santos Alig spent US$579, but didn’t win.

Coalition 21, which proposed the failed drinking age initiative known as Prop A, collected donations amounting to US$23,446 and spent US$9,396.

The opposing group, the Responsible Choices for All Adults Coalition, raised US$104,195.07. It received a total US$127,715 in contributions from beer distributors including MidPac, and Ambros Anheur Busch, which gave the group a total of US$45,000.

Other candidates who reported their campaign expenditures are as follows: Sen. Adolpho Palacios, D-Ordot/Chalan Pago, US$30,962.52; Jim Espaldon, US$56,408; Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Agana Heights, US$27,855; Speaker Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana, US$42,418.81; David Shimizu, US$46,521; Sen. Eddie Calvo, R-Maite, US$57,365.84; Ben Pangelinan, US$55,022; Tina Muna Barnes, US$42,525.40; Judith Guthertz, US$13,007; Frank Ishizaki, US$42,922; and Sen. Tony Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, US$21,387.

Among the candidates for the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, reelected member Simon Sanchez spent the most at US$28,367.98. Elected member Benigno Palomo spent US$597.

Senatorial candidates who didn’t win but spent on campaigns just the same were Jose Mesa, US$25,069.71; Vic Gaza, US$11,905.26; Trini Torres, US$628; Shirley Mabini Souza, US$33,226; Chris Duenas; US$27,380; Angel Santos, US$3,313; and Jose Terlaje, US$4,111.

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