The Riverview at Dobson "Yes" campaign has spent nearly $1 million — about three times as much as opponents — to sell Mesa voters on the project.
Both sides reported figures Thursday in the first and only campaign finance report due before the May 17 election, showing large amounts of money being spent on consultants, television commercials, newspaper ads, signs, mailers and voter surveys.
The "Yes" campaign re- ported $1,288,985 in contributions, exclusively made by Riverview developers Kimco Developers of New York and De Rito Partners Development of Phoenix. The campaign reported expenditures of $859,054 and an additional $90,757 in outstanding debts, or bills that had been received but not paid by April 27, the final day of the reporting period.
The campaign expenditures include $15,000 to Matt Salmon’s consulting firm, $12,262 to Mesa lawyer David Udall’s law firm, $76,000 in legal fees to a Phoenix firm, and $90,000 to a political consulting firm for its efforts in November to prevent Mesa residents from signing the referendum petitions.
Doug Cole, "Yes on Riverview" campaign spokesman, said it’s typical for a "Yes" campaign to spend more. He said some of the spending is a direct result of the opposition’s tactics.
"They’ve put out 10 fliers full of inaccuracies and distortions . . . and it takes a significant amount of money to correct the record, which is what we’ve been doing," Cole said.
The "No" campaign, which has spent nearly $300,000 to spread its message, has received the overwhelming majority of its funding from Harkins Theatres, which is building a movie theater at Tempe Marketplace less than two miles from Riverview. If both centers are built, Harkins will compete with the 16-screen Cinemark theater planned at Riverview.
The "No" side reported expenditures of $245,365 with $44,985 in outstanding debts. Those figures do not include a reported $44,398 owed to attorney Tom Irvine, who represented Valley Business Owners (And Concerned Citizens) during election lawsuits. The group’s treasurer Jan Hibbard said the figure was included to show his rate, but Irvine is working pro bono and will not receive a check from the campaign. Irvine has asked Maricopa County Superior Court to have his fees paid by Mesa and the Riverview developers, Hibbard said. The report did not include the roughly $22,000 spent by the business group during the signaturegathering process.
The "No" side has received $287,665 in contributions, with $258,000 coming from Harkins Theatres, $5,000 from Larada’s Army Surplus and Outdoors Store, $2,025 from Bashas’ — which has since backed out of the campaign — and small donations from a handful of residents.
"No on Riverview" campaign spokesman Jason Rose said he expects more contributions to be made to the campaign, but could not give an estimated amount.
"It’s no surprise that Riverview’s developer would be spending in excess of $1 million when you consider that they want to get the most remarkable retail tax subsidy in state history for a most unremarkable project."
If Propositions 300, 301 and 302 are all approved, the 250-acre project at Dobson Road and Red Mountain Freeway segment of Loop 202 will move forward. The project is expected to include a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Wal-Mart Supercenter and other retailers, up to five auto dealerships and a business park.
Both sides will be required to file a post-election campaign finance report that will include expenditures and contributions after April 27.
Get your ballot: Today is the last day for Mesa voters to request an early ballot. Completed ballots must be received by 7 p.m. May 17 at the Mesa City Clerk’s Office. They can also be dropped off at any polling place on election day. Early voting in person at the City Clerk’s Office, 20 E. Main Street, continues through May 13. To request an early ballot, call (480) 644-2099.