Santa Clara County school board trustee Grace Mah received a staggering $243,400 in contributions, primarily from charter school organizations and representatives, during the most recent reporting period, which covers Sept. 20 through Oct. 17, according to campaign finance reports.
This brings Mah's campaign total to about $323,300 to date.
Challenger Melissa Baten Caswell, meanwhile, raised about $40,500 during this period. To date, her campaign has received about $180,300.
The race for the Area 1 seat, which represents the Palo Alto Unified, Los Altos, Mountain View Whisman and Mountain View-Los Altos Union high school districts and a portion of the Sunnyvale and Fremont Union high school districts, has become heated in recent weeks as outside money poured into Mah's campaign and local parents also worried that donations from critics of Bullis Charter School in Los Altos to Baten Caswell's campaign could put the school's future in jeopardy. Each candidate has criticized the other for spurring outsized fundraising in a local race.
Mah is seeking a fourth term on the county board. Charter school affiliates who gave to her campaign during this period include Charter Public Schools PAC ($75,000 and $105,000); Champions for Education PAC ($20,000); Santa Clara Charter Advocates for Great Public Schools ($5,000); Cheye Calvo, chief growth and community engagement office for Rocketship Public Schools, which operates charter schools in Santa Clara County ($1,000); Bullis founding superintendent Wanny Hersey ($500); Larry Kuechler, who sits on the board of directors of ACE Charter Schools ($2,000); Eric Gonzales, the board president of ACE Charter Schools ($1,000); and Tania Wilcox, who helped found the first charter school in Silicon Valley and is a former board president of ACE Charter Schools ($500).
Charter Public Schools PAC also made a nonmonetary contribution of about $8,000 for polling services during this reporting period, according to Mah's campaign finance report.
Other donors to Mah's campaign during this period include David Crane ($2,500), president of Govern For California, "a network of more than 800 political donors in support of state lawmakers who serve the general interest;" retiree John Dawson ($2,500); former Palo Alto school board member Camille Townsend, who served with Baten Caswell for many years ($200); and a Sacramento-based Services Employees International Union ($800).
Mah also loaned her own campaign $6,000 during this period. She spent about $215,600 during this period, mostly on advertising and mailers, with about $60,500 remaining in her campaign coffers.
After the most recent reporting period, Charter Public Schools PAC and Champions for Education PAC contributed an additional, combined $46,500 to Mah's campaign.
Baten Caswell, a current Palo Alto school board member, received contributions during this period from former Los Altos School District trustee Duane Roberts ($1,000), Bullis parent Tim Fitzgibbon ($2,500), State Assemblymember Evan Low, D-Cupertino ($250), Palo Alto school board candidate Jesse Ladomirak ($200), Palo Alto City Council candidate Carolyn Templeton ($150) and labor union the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 265 ($265).
The East Side Teachers Association Political Action Committee made two nonmonetary contributions for campaign literature and mailings totaling about $30,400, according to Baten Caswell's campaign finance report. Steve Brown, a member of a group called "Unintended Consequences" that was critical of Bullis, gave a nonmonetary contribution of $965 for print advertisements.
Baten Caswell spent close to $55,000 during this period, including on advertising and an outside campaign strategy consultant, with about $3,500 remaining.