Prior to the special election for sheriff earlier this year, Vic Regalado raised so much money that he dwarfed his competitors, bringing in more contributions than all other candidates combined.
But with a week to go before the June 28 primary, Regalado’s fundraising efforts appear to have slowed while he faces two other Republican challengers hoping to win the right to be Tulsa County sheriff for the next four years.
His lead competitor, Luke Sherman, may have actually outdone Regalado when it comes to fundraising for this period — counting late donations, Sherman raised $59,796 according to contribution reports.
Reglado reported in public records that he raised $57,672.57 (counting PAC and last-minute contributions), dramatically less than the $160,000-plus he raised prior to the special election.
Russell Crow, the other Republican in the primary, reported raising $8,035. Democrat Rex Berry reported raising $980, while the other Democrat in the race, Arthur Jackson, did not file a campaign contribution report.
Regalado, tasked with rebuilding a sheriff’s office plagued with a year of controversy, attributed the diminished fundraising to a lack of time for campaigning.
“I told myself that when I was sheriff, I would do the job I was elected to do,” Regalado said in a telephone interview. “That’s what the people elected me for. But that doesn’t leave a lot of time to be out meeting people. I think there have been only a couple of nights, really, when I’ve been able to do that.”
Regalado’s campaign contributions came under fire prior to the special election, both for the amount of money he raised as well as where it came from. The money the former Tulsa Police Department homicide detective raised allowed him to run television commercials prior to the election, and he was the only candidate to do so. Some of the other candidates said they felt those commercials, more than Regalado’s mission, helped him cruise to victory.
But there were other issues raised in the contribution reports.
Several of the donations came from Hispanic employees of ISTI, a Rogers County factory with seemingly no ties to the Tulsa County Sheriff race. Regalado said the contributions came after he was introduced to and met with a key figure at ISTI, whom he did not name. He said he did not meet with the company’s employees or their spouses, who donated to his campaign at or near the maximum allowed.
One contribution came from a man named Justin Gonzalez, a 25-year-old man who gave Regalado’s campaign $2,500. Gonzalez has felony drug and firearm convictions as well as a misdemeanor conviction of eluding police in Rogers County. He was unable to pay court fines and costs in both Tulsa and Rogers counties in 2013, resulting in his tax return being intercepted, records show. Regalado returned Gonzalez’s donation.
The Tulsa World reported last week that some of the donors from his special election efforts were under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office. That revelation brought about its own controversy, as Sherman said in a campaign commercial that Regalado himself was under investigation, something Regalado denied. The paper asked Sherman to edit his commercial to more accurately reflect their story, something he said he agreed to do.
Other donations came from several people connected to former Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s tenure, including thousands of dollars from the family of Hastings Siegfried, a former TPD officer and longtime Tulsa businessman, who has served as a reserve deputy at TCSO for years. Regalado said before he was elected that he would not accept donations from reserve deputies, in order to avoid the patronage allegations that dogged Glanz.
Sherman has publicly complained that Siegfried has been allowed to remain a reserve deputy despite having donated to Regalado in the past. Regalado’s response was that Siegfried donated prior to his election to interim sheriff, and now that he’s been elected, Siegfried would not be allowed to donate to his campaign.
Prior to being elected in April, Regalado also received donations from Clark Brewster, a lawyer who has represented the sheriff’s office during the Stanley Glanz regime. The latest campaign documents do not list donations from Brewster or any member of the Siegfried family.
Sherman actually outspent Regalado this period: $36,836.33, compared to the $26,203.87 spent by the incumbent sheriff. Now Sherman is the candidate with commercials, spending $2,500 on “TV advertising,” according to campaign documents. Regalado has mainly relied on newspaper ads, his actions as sheriff and his incumbent status as he nears the election.
The effect money has on smaller elections such as sheriff races can be large. During the special election, the voting outcome lined up nearly identically to the amount of money raised by each candidate.
“We did do commercials this time, and we’re very excited about them,” Sherman said. “If you looked at the last election, we believe there were people who only voted for Regalado because he was the guy they saw on television. We know that exposure is so important.”