By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Democrat Jason Shelton has outpaced Republican Fred Pitts in overall fundraising by more than $30,000 since they began raising money for their campaign, including $10,000 more during the past month.
However, Shelton and his family also have given or loaned a significant amount of their own money to the campaign, in contrast to Pitts who says he is philosophically opposed to contributing to his own campaign.
The candidates filed campaign finance reports Tuesday covering April 28 through May 25. Candidates are required by state law to report the source of individual contributions and expenses of more than $200, including contributions from themselves.
Shelton’s largest contribution to his campaign for this reporting period is a $4,000 loan to himself, making a total of $14,125 he has given to his own campaign since January. To date, Shelton’s campaign reported raising $87,571 since January and $31,150 during the recent reporting period.
Pitts’ campaign has raised $56,340 since January and $21,770 during the recent reporting period.
Shelton’s father, Jimmy Doug Shelton, contributed $2,300 during this reporting period, while the candidate’s brother, Jon, reported giving $1,000.
Shelton’s father, a former attorney, spent nine months in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud related to an alleged scam of a charity bingo operation. However, Shelton has said that his father’s legal problems have nothing to do with his political campaign.
Aside from Shelton’s loan to his campaign, his top contributor for the pre-general election period was a Saltillo farmer and business owner, Tim May, who donated $2,500. Larry Michael, employed by Transport Trailer, and Jay Ennis, a sales representative, both reported giving $2,000.
A contributor of note to Shelton’s campaign, Larry Brymer, general manger of Carlock Toyota, gave $1,000. In early April, the car dealership convinced the City Council to allow a sign for the business more than twice as large as allowed in the Barnes Crossing shopping area. However, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. vetoed putting the sign up, the first veto of his administration.
Pitts, who serves as City Council president, has said he would have vetoed the action if he had been mayor.
Almost all of Pitts’ reported contributions were in amounts of $250 and $500 amounts, while his largest contribution of $1,000 was from a political action committee that supports Republican candidates, The Watchdog PAC.
To date, Pitts’ largest contributor has been Joe Estess, owner of Magnolia Business, who gave $2,000 in January.