Candidates for sheriff filed campaign contribution disclosures by the Tuesday grace period deadline, revealing how much they've received and spent over the last three months as the race has heated up.
Of the candidates, Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton spent and received nearly twice as much as the next candidate, Newton County Sheriff's Office Lt. Ezell Brown, followed closely by NCSO Capt. Marty Robert, and NCSO Lt. Bill Watterson, NCSO Lt. Gwen Hightower and DeKalb County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Chris Cowan.
Cotton reported receiving a total of $25,100 in contributions since he's begun campaigning, with approximately $18,500 coming the last three months alone. About $15,000 of that came from 17 donors, and four of those contributions were the maximum amount allowed for a primary, $2,300, from Michael Bruno, Lisa Hayes and Clay and Judy Newman.
Brown raised about $7,600 in this period, including five contributions ranging from $500 to $200, for a total amount of $12,739 since he announced his candidacy.
Roberts collected approximately $6,400 this period, for a total of almost $8,000. Six contributions ranging from $500 to $150 gave him about $1,700.
Watterson raised about $7,000 total, with approximately $6,600 this period. Five contributions ranging from $300 to $150 gave him $1,200 in the last three months, with the rest coming from himself or his spouse.
Cowan reported raising about $2,768 total and spent about $2,758 total. There were three contributions in this period, excluding a donation to himself, ranging from $500 to $150.
Hightower raised about $1,500 total but spent about $9,000 total, investing more than $7,000 into her campaign as of July 1. All of her reported contributions were collected this period, mostly during a barbeque and yardsale fundraiser, according to the report.
Most of the candidates chipped in their own money to their campaigns, whether by direct contribution or loans. Brown loaned himself $3,000, Cowan gave $1,300 to himself, Roberts received $2,000 from his spouse, and Watterson reported loaning nearly $5,000 to himself.
Some of the common expenses included campaign materials, advertising, qualifying fees, fees for the televised sheriff's candidate forum, and other expenses.
All the candidates spent a sizable chunk of their money on campaign materials, except for Cowan, who reused the signs he made from the last time he ran for sheriff in 2004.
Cotton and Watterson were the only candidates that spent significant money on services such as professional campaign consulting, website hosting and design and entering events. Cotton spent $3,650 on services from Isquare Communications in Atlanta for campaign consulting and voter file consulting. Watterson used $1,750 for Web site design, photography, and hosting from the Stone Ridge Group. Hightower also invested in a list of registered voters and a small fee to maintain her Web site.
The next filing deadline is after the primary election, on September 30.
According to the State Board of Ethics, the maximum amount a person or entity can contribute in an election cycle for a primary is $2,300, $1,200 for a primary run-off, and $2,300 for a general election.