Who says you can't own a Tempe City Councilman. $160,000 says somebody must own Ben Arredondo - favors almost always follow donations.


Arredondo war chest swells to $160,000

Jahna Berry The Arizona Republic Mar. 4, 2006 12:00 AM

City Councilman Ben Arredondo's re-election campaign has raked in more than $160,000, buoyed by support from political action committees, grocery-store executives, developers and ambulance companies.

The other candidates - Councilman Len Copple, former Tempe Community Council Assistant Director Shana Ellis, researcher Onnie Shekerjian, and ASU graduate student Corey Woods - raised less overall but made significant fund-raising leaps compared with past fund-raising totals.

So far, Ellis has raised $19,910 and Shekerjian has raised $18,394. Copple has raised $13,237, and Woods has raised $10,153.

According to campaign finance reports filed late Thursday, Arredondo's war chest swelled by roughly $10,000 since the 12-year councilman last reported campaign contributions Jan. 31.

A significant chunk comes from nearly $2,000 in in-kind donations from several members of the Basha clan, who helm Bashas' supermarkets. And earlier in the campaign, Arredondo was showered with $350 donations from Southwest Ambulance and Professional Medical Transport.

He also landed money from developers with Tempe Town Lake projects, such as Gray Development Group, which is building the Mondrian condos, and Suncor Development Co.

Arredondo said the contributions don't affect his decisions. He returns to the same list of donors for every campaign, he said.

"They have always contributed to my campaign, this campaign and the last two elections," he said. "I work off the same database. They could have come (to fund-raisers) or not come."

Meanwhile, the other incumbent in the race snared fewer donations from developers and raised less money overall.

Copple raised about $7,000 in the latest period, including donations from a handful of Tempe real estate players and political action committees that also contributed to Arredondo. Most of his contributions came from small business owners and retirees.

Ellis roped nearly $10,000 in donations since January, records show. Ellis said she tapped into her father's network at Arizona State University for contributions. Her father, Bob Ellis, was the former associate vice president for university relations.

"You'll see a lot of retirees from ASU," she said with a laugh.

She also got donations from Councilwoman Pam Goronkin, Tempe state Legislature candidate Ed Ableser, and Tempe Union High School District governing board member Zita Johnson.

Shekerjian, the former president of the state's Charter School Board, also picked up an additional $10,000 in donations.

Shekerjian was one of her own biggest contributors. She's loaned herself $3,100 to date, campaign records show. Contributors include former Tempe Councilwoman Barbara Sherman, Rep. Laura Knaperek and $1,000 from the Realtors of Arizona political action committee.

Woods drew $6,000 in campaign contributions this period, documents show. That includes about $3,200 he has loaned to himself.

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