The UnifiEd PAC, which helped engineer a surprise County Commission election victory in May for political newcomer Katherlyn Geter, is not making public endorsements in the Aug. 2 election, but is putting its money behind a small slate of candidates.
The financial disclosures for UnifiEd show the group strongly backing County Mayor Jim Coppinger over Democratic opponent Aloyse Brown.
UnifiEd is not getting in the sheriff race where Democrat Victor Miller is challenging incumbent Jim Hammond.
But it is backing Rosabelle Gorman, who is trying to unseat incumbent Greg Martin in County Commission District 3.
It is also providing help to David Sharpe, who is seeking to take the seat of Republican Joe Graham in District 6.
The UnifiEd PAC is also behind District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey.
It is supporting County Commission Chairman Randy Fairbanks and Vice Chairman Sabrena Smedley, who are unopposed. Commissioner Smedley said Monday she returned the $500 check from UnifiEd a week ago. She said, "I have been thinking about it awhile, and I said, "Well, we'll give it back." She said she did so "because of all the controversy and I do not want my constituents to think that I have endorsed anything" favored by UnifiEd."
The group spent thousands of dollars to help Ms. Geter defeat veteran Greg Beck In County Commission District 5 by 15 votes.
UnifiEd also poured help into the effort by East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert to unseat Tim Boyd from the District 8 County Commission post. However, Commissioner Boyd won handily even though he had been indicted on an extortion charge on allegations brought by Mayor Lambert.
Commissioner Boyd afterward denounced UnifiEd, saying it was "using students in the Department of Ed as a crutch for their political agenda." He also said the group's APEX Project is "the most far left, liberal document I have ever read. It does not represent the values of Hamilton County and I am insulted and disrespected by it."
School Board members Joe Smith and Rhonda Thurman in May denounced a UnifiEd plan to have the schools involved in pushing for racial integration. UnifiEd leaders responded by calling the two board members "hateful."
Since then UnifiEd has gone low key and did not make candidate endorsements as expected for the August election. Some candidates, including Joe Smith, met with UnifiEd officials, but told them they did not want the group's public endorsement.
Commissioner Graham said, "According to the financial report filed by the UnifiEd candidate opposing us, UnifiEd has spent more than $4,400.00 to take the District 6 seat for their own political gain. In the very beginning of this campaign, I said, 'No thank you' to UnifiEd's interviews, to their questionnaire, and to their endorsement. They are not interested in good government, they just want to control whomever is in the the district seat."
The UnifiEd PAC was spun off from the UnifiEd non profit last November (since non profits are not allowed to get involved in helping political candidates). The former UnifiEd leader, Jonas Barriere, changed hats. However, the two groups retain the same offices on McCallie Avenue, and most of the tens of thousands the UnifiEd PAC has received from some of the city's biggest givers have gone to the office expenses.
In its first financial disclosure on Jan. 30, 2018, the UnifiEd PAC had taken in $23,525 since its November 2017 launch.
Inaugural donors included:
$10,000 Joseph Davenport III
$5,000 Alice Lupton Smith, Jo Ann Yates
$2,500 Anita Davenport
$1,000 Michael Lebovitz
Some of the funding went to consultant Lauri Moyle, who later became development director for Hope for the Inner City.
For the first quarter of 2018 - before any of the controversies - the UnifiEd PAC took in $43,770 and spent $54,028.
The givers included:
$10,000 Olan Mills
$5,000 Mary Moore, Vision Hospitality, Sally Chazen
$2,500 Karen Welborn, Sharon Mills, Rick Montague, Pat Brock, Ward Davenport
$1,000 Dana Perry, Elizabeth Graham, Charlie Brock, Todd Phillips
$500 Sarah Faulkner, Sarah Morgan, DCF, LLC
$250 Michael St. Charles, Kurt Faires, Nick Decosimo
County Commission District 2 foes Chip Baker and Elizabeth Baker were given $46.72 in-kind staff time for their campaigns. The group said it was not making a pick in that contest.
Here are other first quarter UnifiEd expenses:
Jim Coppinger $568.59 in-kind staff time for campaign plus in-house printing
Randy Fairbanks $286.32 in-kind staff time for campaign
Katherlyn Geter $879.77 in-kind staff time for campaign
Brent Lambert $1,516.80 in-kind staff time for campaign plus in-house printing
Warren Mackey $389.78 in-kind staff time for campaign
Rosabelle Gorman $46.72 in-kind staff time for campaign
David Sharpe $85.21 in-kind staff time for campaign
The UnifiEd PAC filed an amended report on April 20.
For the short time since the last report, the PAC had received $3,586 and spent $4,746.
Dede Ensberg $1,000
Kelly Suburu Saab $2,500
Vistaprint $955.93 in-kind expenditure for printing door hangers for Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert
Sabrena Smedley $500 campaign contribution
Katherlyn Geter $1,010 campaign contribution
Randy Fairbanks $750 campaign contribution
Jim Coppinger $1,762 in-kind staff time for campaign plus in-house printing
Randy Fairbanks $31 in-kind staff time for campaign plus in-house printing
Katherlyn Geter $2,368 in-kind staff time for campaign plus in-house printing
Brent Lambert $1,980 in-kind staff time for campaign plus in-house printing
Sabrena Smedley $3.49 in-kind staff time for campaign
A July 10 financial disclosure by the UnifiEd PAC was for the period April 22-June 30.
It reported $22,776 in gifts and $29,448 spent.
$5,000 Barry Large, Lorie Runge, Paul Neely
$2,000 Kincaid Mills
$1,000 Craig Holley, Annette Allen, Susan Street, Allen McCallie, Paul Brock
$500 Chantelle Roberson
$250 Robert and Priscilla Siskin
Independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger, Brent Lambert and Katherlyn Geter $302
Gift cards in behalf of Katherlyn Geter $110
Audrey Hill independent contract work in behalf of Katherlyn Geter $155
Alex Haynes independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert $237
Camellia Logan independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert $125
Mae Stuart independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert $315
Michaela Winter independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert $427
Anna Machin independent contract work in behalf of Katherlyn Geter $147
Michael Persad independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert $177
Taylor Zukowski independent contract work in behalf of Jim Coppinger and Brent Lambert $320
Advertising expenses for Katherlyn Geter, Brent Lambert and Warren Mackey $150
Advertising expenses to Chattanooga Publishing Company for Brent Lambert $250
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Jim Coppinger $602
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Warren Mackey $315
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Rosabelle Gorman $28
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Randy Fairbanks $39
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Katherlyn Geter $1,476
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Brent Lambert $947
Value of staff time and in-house printing for David Sharpe $25
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Rosabelle Gorman $170
Value of staff time and in-house printing for Warren Mackey $3.88