Campaign Math: How Helen Gym Brings It in

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COUNCILMEMBER Helen Gym led the field of at-large councilmanic candidates in 2019. Here is a breakdown of how she raised and spent campaign funds.

In 2019, Helen Gym’s campaign committee, Friends of Helen Gym, was a fundraising machine.

Gym started 2019 with $276,179.01 in the bank, and during the year raised an additional $524,785.57 for a total of $800,964.58. Of this, her committee spent $749,626.65.

According to campaign finance data available from the Philadelphia City Board of Ethics, Gym spent $3,348.22 on credit card processing with ActBlue, a Democratic online gift-processing platform.

According to ActBlue’s website, the organization charges a flat fee of 3.95% on all contributions made through their platform. This means that Gym raised approximately $84,765.06 through online contributions.

Online fundraising has a number of advantages. First, it is relatively inexpensive to reach people via email. You don’t have to rent a hall or pay for catering and a DJ. Second, you can be timely – Gym can (and does) make the most of whatever events are happening at any given time in both Philadelphia and the national level. Third, it gets a candidate’s name in front of a lot of people on a repeated basis. And finally, it can pay for itself – each email Gym sent could raise money, which could pay for the next email. $84,765.06 pays for a lot of emails.

Gym also raised $246,550.00 from various PACs. Big PAC donors giving more than $10,000 included American Federation of Teachers COPE – VOLUNTARY A/C, Carpenters Legislative Program of Greater PA, District Council 21, Local 32 BJ PA American Dream Fund, Local Union 98 I.B.E.W. Committee on Political Education, PFT Committee to Support Public Education, Plumbers Union Local 690, SEIU Healthcare and Unite Here TIP Campaign Committee.

Gym raised $207,699.38 from large donations (more than $250.00) in 2019. Donors giving $3,000 or more included Adam Butler, Barbara Schiffrin, Dominick A. Cipollini, John Chou, Jolley Christman, Kairol Rosenthal, Michael Fortunato, Michael Weiss, Richard Campbell, Richard Schiffrin, Richard Vague, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP, Teresa A. Wallace, Todd Carmichael, Victor Keen, Willig Williams & Davidson, and Won G Gym.

Of the 691 contributions found in the Board of Ethics data for Helen Gym, 480 appeared to come from Philadelphia ZIP codes and 211 came from outside the city.

Most of Gym’s fundraising took place in the first half of 2019. After the primary was over, her fundraising and spending activity dropped off significantly. Gym raised $450,170.57 in 2019 cycles 1, 2, and 3 which covered Jan 1, 2019 through June 10, 2019 (the primary was May 21, 2019.) Her total fundraising haul for the rest of the year was just $74,615.00. Gym was virtually guaranteed to win an at-large position on City Council after coming in first in the Democratic primary.

Gym’s campaign spent $681,739.66 during the reporting periods before the primary, and only $67,886.99 after it. Expenditures included the following large items listed in the table below.

Friends of Helen Gym ended 2019 with $51,337.93 in the bank and no debt.

215 People’s Alliance = $10,000.00 for field program
Basecamp Strategy = $8,514.00 for digital consultant
Brendan McPhillips = 10,368.76 for salary
Democratic City Committee = $6,000.00 for mail
Democratic City Committee = $32,000.00 for political contribution
Edge Hill Strategies LLC = $14,965.26 for consultant
Eric Rosso = $11,788.64 for salary
Helen Gym = $25,000.00 for debt repayment
Jeffrey A Miller Catering = $4,037.35 for event catering
Law Office of Adam Bonin = $9,000.00 for legal services
McKenna Media = $21,500.00 for ad shoot production
Mission Control Inc. = $86,595.66 for literature/photoshoot
Normington Petts & Assoc. = $28,000.00 for polling
Northeast Democratic Club = $10,000.00 for contribution
Rachel Fortier = $19,092.01 for salary
Reclaim Philadelphia = $12,000.00 for field program
Screen Strategies Media = $306,315.00 for media buys
Sean Dix = $7,856.60 for consulting

David Lynn is a political animal living in Philadelphia. He is currently social distancing along with everybody else.

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