Uresti in pieces

Oh, how the mighty have overspent. Every campaign-finance report tells a tale, and Senator Carlos Uresti’s six-month report spins a yarn of debt and redemption. Things were very different for Uresti a year ago. For one, he was a state representative. For two, Senator Frank Madla was alive, and Uresti had just beaten him in the Democratic primary with a landslide of votes and a windfall of campaign money. When June 30 rolled around, and mid-year campaign-finance reports were due, Madla had raised $211,000, but spent a quarter of a million, leaving little more than $5,000 in his account. Uresti, on the other hand, had raised nearly a million, but also spent almost all of it.

Research: Dave Maass
Design: Chuck Kerr

Republican challenger Dick Bowen’s treasury was laughable, and Uresti signed for $58,500 in loans and cruised to victory. By the end of 2006, Uresti reported almost $74,000 in his war chest.

But then came the legislative session, when lawmakers swear off political contributions and many, including most of the S.A. delegation, just take the whole season off from fundraising (perhaps because it makes it easier for their treasurers to compile their six-month campaign-finance reports). Uresti didn’t quite have that luxury: By the end of June, he’d spent all but $12,000 of his reserves. That would’ve barely been enough to pay the rent on his district office and his Space Saver storage shed, let alone campaign staffers Norman Garza and Robert Maldonado. And that’s not counting his $58,500 in debt.

Where did it all go? The quick answer is, the usual: $14,500 on staffers and consultants; $9,000 on rent and storage; more than $6,000 on office furniture, supplies, and decorations; and nearly $2,000 on long-distance calls.

In addition to that overhead, Carlos dished out money to what he considered worthy causes: $2,500 in SeaWorld tickets for foster kids; a $1,000 contribution to Communities in Schools of San Antonio (Uresti sits on the board); $250 for Al Alonso’s judicial campaign; and the odd hundred bucks here and there for flowers for local funerals.

And like all good San Antonians, Uresti has a weakness for athletics: $842 in tickets from the Aggies’ booster club for “constituents”; $1,300 to sponsor a Little League team; $105 in Longhorn tickets; $70 in Spurs tickets; and $50 to sponsor a Bexar County Adult Probation softball team. (Not all of his expenses are easily tracked; he made out $1,300 in checks to American Express, his credit-card company, for un-itemized expenses — a campaign-finance no-no.)

Luckily, Uresti has friends to keep him off the street. On the second to last day of the campaign cycle, a crew of lobbyists and special-interest representatives came to his rescue, checkbooks ready, and dished out $27,7000 to keep his campaign going (and from looking weak). Now, if he can only collect $11,000 more he’ll be back in black.

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