2017 Birmingham Elections

Contributions to Bell and Woodfin Highlight Campaign Differences

Mayor William Bell

Birmingham’s two remaining mayoral candidates have reported the contributions their campaigns have received since the Aug. 22 election, revealing stark contrasts between the candidates’ fundraising tactics.

Filings submitted last week show that incumbent candidate William Bell has raised $137,000 since the election, more than triple the $42,356 that challenger Randall Woodfin has raised.

But Woodfin surpasses Bell in the sheer number of individual contributors. He’s collected contributions from 327 donors since Aug. 22, with an average donation of $130, while Bell has received contributions from 59 sources, averaging $2,331 per donation.

Bell and Woodfin meet in a runoff Oct. 3. Woodfin led the balloting on Aug. 22, getting 40.84 percent of the vote to Bell’s 36.55 percent, according to the official city results.

More than half of Bell’s contributions since the election – $81,000 –  have come from political action committees or businesses, compared to just less than a quarter of Woodfin’s – $10,050. In fact, almost all of Woodfin’s donations have come from individual donors, which he has mentioned multiple times during the campaign.

A post on Woodfin’s website describes the disparity between the two campaigns’ individual donor numbers as indicative of “various levels of enthusiasm and trust” from Birmingham residents.

Randall Woodfin

Bell, meanwhile, has argued that much of Woodfin’s campaign money comes from outside Birmingham.

“There’s money flowing into Birmingham to help his candidacy,” he told city employees at a controversial Aug. 28 meeting. “While I’ve been running a local race, he’s been running a national race.”

At least one letter has been sent to the state Ethics Commission seeking an investigation of that meeting, in which Bell urged his staff to promote his campaign during their off hours and on social media. Woodfin also has asked the state attorney general to investigate.

Since the election, just 52 percent of Woodfin’s donors have listed Birmingham addresses. Birmingham donors are responsible for $27,820 of the money he has raised in that time — just less than 66 percent of his total contributions. The remaining $14,535 has come from outside Birmingham, with $5,763 of that total coming from out-of-state donors. Woodfin’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A comparably small portion of Bell’s contributions have come from out of state; only six of his 59 donors aren’t from Alabama. But one large portion of his contributions has come from outside Birmingham. A variety of Montgomery-based PACs have contributed $26,500 to his campaign since Aug. 22.

Recent endorsements

Also since the election, former Birmingham Mayors Richard Arrington and Bernard Kincaid have endorsed Bell, a seven-year veteran in the mayor’s post.

Woodfin picked up the endorsement of former candidate Chris Woods.