Fact check: Did a quarter of Milhaven’s contributions come from bar district?
Beth Duckett, The Republic
azcentral.com July 30, 2014
WHO SAID IT: David Smith.
THE RACE: Scottsdale City Council.
THE FORUM: A candidates forum co-hosted by The Arizona Republic and the Andara Senior Lifestyle community, 11415 N. 114th St., on July 23.
THE COMMENT: “You heard one person say they couldn’t be prouder of what’s happening downtown. Twenty-five percent of that person’s campaign contributions came from the bar district.”
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT: azcentral Fact Check examines whether Smith, a candidate for Scottsdale City Council, was correct when he said that 25 percent of campaign contributions to another candidate, Linda Milhaven, came from donors associated with Scottsdale’s downtown-entertainment district.
THE ANALYSIS: Milhaven and Smith were among eight candidates for Scottsdale City Council who attended the July 23 forum. The candidates are vying for three seats on the council in the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 26.
During the forum, moderator Chris Coppola, editor of the Scottsdale Republic, asked the following question: “Do you agree with the overall direction of the downtown area? If not, what would you do differently?”
Milhaven responded with, “I couldn’t be prouder (of) the impact I’ve had on south Scottsdale.”
Smith responded with the comment, “You heard one person say they couldn’t be prouder of what’s happening downtown. Twenty-five percent of that person’s campaign contributions came from the bar district.” Smith told The Republic he was referring to fellow candidate and incumbent Milhaven.
The bar district, formally known as the downtown-entertainment district, encompasses bars, nightclubs and restaurants south of Camelback Road and east of Scottsdale Road, in downtown Scottsdale.
An analysis by The Republic examined campaign-finance reports for Milhaven.
The reports showed who contributed to Milhaven’s campaign through May 31, 2014, the end of the last reporting period.
Here is what the analysis found:
• Milhaven’s campaign raised $28,265 in cash from individual contributors through May 31. Nearly 90 individuals gave money to her campaign.
• Of the contributors, at least six were associated with Scottsdale’s downtown-entertainment district in the following ways:
• Les Corieri donated $2,500 to Milhaven’s campaign on Dec. 3, 2013. Corieri owns Evening Entertainment Group, whose portfolio includes Hi-Fi Kitchen & Cocktails, the Mint, RnR, Bottle Blonde, a craft-beer concept, and the future Livewire, a live-entertainment venue, in the entertainment district.
• Shahrod Yari gave $1,000 on March 19. Yari is the owner of Triyar, which owns W Scottsdale and numerous nightclubs in downtown’s entertainment district.
• Joseph Dies, who is listed as general manager, bars and nightlife at Triyar, gave $500 on March 19.
• Bobby Agahi, a partner at Triyar, donated $1,000 on March 18.
• Jason Adler, listed as general manager of Triyar Entertainment, gave $500 on March 29.
• Ryan Hibbert of Riot Hospitality Group gave a total of $1,800, including $800 as an in-kind contribution, Milhaven said. Hibbert is a managing partner of Riot, which owns Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in the entertainment district.
The total contributions received from the six donors was $7,300. The total campaign contributions were $28,265.
Therefore, contributions from people associated with the entertainment district made up 25.8 percent of the total individual contributions.
However, only six individual contributors out of nearly 90 were associated with the bar district, which amounts to 6.8 percent.
Smith, former Scottsdale city treasurer, said he believes the contributions “give the appearance of impropriety,both because of their source and their significance to the candidate’s total fund-raising effort.”
Milhaven, a banker, responded by saying that she is a business person who has chaired the boards of numerous organizations that support and promote Scottsdale’s business community.
“It should be no surprise that the business community supports me – both business owners and their employees,” she said.
Milhaven added, “I think the more interesting question might be why the business community doesn’t support the other candidates.”
BOTTOM LINE: Smith’s comment that 25 percent of contributions to Milhaven’s re-election campaign are from the bar district is true, if the analysis looks at total money donated and not the number of contributors.
THE FINDING: Four stars, true.