This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • Rep. Jim Matheson is by far the biggest fundraiser among Utah's three House members, representing a district that is often competitive. While he raises most of his money from political action committees run by business groups, unions and politicians, he still has a small core of committed individual donors.
The Salt Lake Tribune analyzed contributions from each of Matheson's six House elections to determine which families rank among his top 10 contributors of all time. These loyal supporters, some of whom are quite wealthy, are limited by federal rules on how much they can give. PACs can donate $5,000 per election (convention, primary and general), while individuals can contribute $2,400 per election.
1. Ashok and Surekha Joshi
Total contributions • $33,644
Matheson's top contributors run a company that has benefited from federal earmarks secured with the congressman's help. It's hard to tell if their ties go beyond this. The Joshis did not return calls seeking comment.
They run Ceramatec, a Utah company that develops new uses for ceramics, including biofuels and the delivery of pain medication. Matheson has helped the company secure at least three earmarks in recent years, including a $1.6 million defense grant in 2008. Matheson hasn't sponsored an earmark for the company in the past two years.
Back in 2008, Ashok Joshi told The Tribune he contributes for two reasons: his wife is a supporter and he hoped the contributions would help get federal funds.
"I also feel that appropriations have politics behind [them], so naturally I want my representatives to fight to get the money to Utah," he said.
Matheson said he met the Joshis at a House party during his first campaign. "They appreciated my approach and supported me ever since."
The Joshis have contributed $10,600 to Matheson so far this election cycle. The couple have also donated to other federal officials, such as Sen. Orrin Hatch, but in much smaller amounts. When contributions from all Ceramatec executives are combined, the company has contributed nearly $45,000 to Matheson since he first ran for office.
2. Ian and Annette Cumming
Leucadia National Corp.
Total contributions • $26,700
The Cummings are major contributors to the Democratic Party and pro-abortion rights groups, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have also been steady supporters of Matheson starting with his first race in the 2000 election.
The wealthy family, which lives in Jackson, Wyo., leads Leucadia, a venture capital firm and the Cumming Foundation, a charity. They also have a financial interest in a handful of ski resorts.
The Cumming clan, including his children and their spouses, contributed more than $63,000 to Matheson, a tally no group of individuals can top.
Matheson said Ian Cumming was friends with his father and the two families have remained close.
3. Richard and Judy Rawle
Tosh and Check City
Total contributions • $21,600
At first, the Rawles, who own 80 payday-lending stores, wanted to see Matheson defeated and were willing to give big to his opponent. In the 2002 and 2004 campaign, the couple and their relatives contributed $50,000 to Republican John Swallow. But starting in June 2004, the Rawles began sending contributions Matheson's way and they have never stopped.
In all, the Rawle family has given the congressman $46,300.
"He's a middle-of-the-road guy who we like," said Richard Rawle, who said he couldn't recall why his family supported Swallow over Matheson in those earlier races. Swallow has worked as an attorney and lobbyist for Check City.
Rawle said he has provided Matheson with research on his industry, which is regulated by the state and county governments, though at times Congress takes an interest.
"He doesn't sit on any committees that involve my products," Rawle said.
In fact, Matheson is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has occasionally ventured into payday-lending issues and its former chairman even proposed a bill adding new federal regulations in 2007. The bill never became law.
Matheson said he can't explain the Rawles' fundraising switch either.
"I'd like to think that when they got better acquainted with me, they appreciated the way I conducted myself in office," he said.
4. Candace and Thomas D. Dee III,
A school psychologist; an analyst with Intermountain Healthcare
Total contributions • $21,000
The Dees are involved in two family foundations, one of which helps support Ogden's McKay-Dee Hospital, but their contributions to Matheson are a separate matter, born from their ties to his family.
"I served with his mother Norma on some nonprofit boards, and I just kind of know Jim through some social connections," said Thomas D. Dee III.
He said Matheson is the only federal candidate they regularly contribute to and he talks to the congressman a few times each year. He likes that Matheson has focused on nuclear waste issues, and sought funding to remove radioactive tailings from the banks of the Colorado River.
5. John and Kristi Cumming
Total contributions • $17,450
John Cumming is the son of Ian and Annette Cumming. He's also the chief executive of Powdr Corp., which operates ski resorts in several states, including Park City Mountain Resort.
Like his father, John Cumming and his family have supported Matheson from the beginning. The couple have given to other federal candidates, but not to the same level they have supported Matheson.
Continuing the family involvement in Utah Democratic circles, Kristi Cumming served as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
6. Norma Matheson
Total contributions • $17,000
Norma Matheson has a few reasons she contributes to the congressman, but one overrides all the others.
"Well, I'm his mother," she said.
She's also the widow of the late Gov. Scott M. Matheson and a veteran of Utah politics.
"I guess I understand that campaigns run on money unfortunately," she said. "If you feel strongly that someone is going to represent you well, you have to support them financially."
7. Omar and Nancy Kader
Total contributions • $15,800
A Provo native, Omar Kader runs Pal Tech, a government contractor in Virginia that works with federal agencies on technical and administrative projects. He and his wife Nancy, originally from Ogden, have maintained an interest in Utah politics.
They're regular contributors to Matheson, though Omar Kader says that has more to do with his desire to have a Utah Democrat in Congress than with Matheson's voting record.
"I can easily say I disagree with him more than I agree, but I still support him," he said. "It's not a good thing for the state of Utah to be perceived as a single party state."
Kader also said he was close to Matheson's father, a two-term governor.
"I support him partly out of family loyalty," he said.
8. Edward and Geri Mineau
Total contributions • $15,200
The Mineaus have contributed to Matheson throughout his first five campaigns. The couple, Ed, a psychiatrist, and Geri, a research oncologist, have also given to other Democrats in the state.
9. William and Julia Reagan
Reagan Outdoor Advertising
Total contributions • $15,150
The Reagans are prominent contributors to many Utah politicians of both parties. They are the only people to make Matheson's top 10 list who also donated to his Republican opponent this year, Morgan Philpot, who once worked for their company as an in-house attorney. The Reagans have contributed money to the campaigns of all of Utah's sitting members of Congress.
10. J. Lynn and Diana Lady Dougan
An economist; a former State Department official
Total contributions • $14,900
The Dougans are family friends, who were close to Matheson's father.
"I've known him for many years," Lynn Dougan said. "Even though Jim's Democratic credentials have been challenged by some, I still think he's a very smart and capable, talented guy."
He said he believes Matheson is a student of policy and a responsible office holder, though he is disappointed the congressman voted against health care reform earlier this year.
mcanham @ sltrib.com