This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Chia-Chi Teng has poured more than $500,000 of his own money into his GOP primary race against U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
Financial disclosure forms show Teng, a Brigham Young University professor and retired Microsoft engineer, has loaned the campaign a total of $507,046, including $280,000 since the GOP state convention in April. That is 95 percent of all the money he has raised in his 3rd Congressional District race.
Relying on his own money, Teng said, is better than depending on special interests which fund Chaffetz, he asserted, and "come with strings attached."
"I don't see funding my own campaign as something bad," Teng said.
"I would love to have support from anybody who believes in my agenda and approach. But I'm not going out to ask for special-interest money, because they always come with strings attached," he said. "I don't want any strings attached from anybody. I believe in working for the people. That's what I'm going to focus on. That's the difference, to me, between me and the incumbent."
Chaffetz said he doesn't buy that Teng is not trying to raise money from special interests and others.
"He's been trying, he just hasn't been able to do it," he said, noting that Teng's website makes appeals for donations.
Because Teng loaned the half-million dollars to his campaign instead of making it a simple donation, Chaffetz said, the challenger is "hoping to raise money to pay it back.
In any case, "He has the First Amendment right to spend as much money as he wants to lose," Chaffetz said.
Meanwhile, the four-term incumbent has amassed just over $1 million this two-year cycle, including $558,450 from political-action committees and $430,569 from individuals but the lion's share of those individuals are business executives or lobbyists. About 13 percent of his money came from donors with Utah addresses.
"This is what's wrong with D.C. and career politicians," Teng said. "They stay there too long and the out-of-state PACs and lobbyists get their hands on them, and that's when our congressmen stop representing us and start representing special interests."
Chaffetz is fine with looking outside Utah for funding.
"I raise money from as far and wide of a reach as I can possibly get," he said, "and encourage people at every level to try to donate."
He added, "When they make those donations, there's no strings attached. I'm still a free agent to vote however I feel best serves the interests of Utah, and that's what I do."
Some donors of note to his campaign have included Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, $5,400; hotelier Richard Marriott, $2,500; Sinclair Cos. owner Carol Holding, $2,700; Check City CEO Todd Rawle, $1,000; and Nu Skin Chairman Blake Roney, $2,700.
Top-donor PACs that gave $10,000 each to Chaffetz included AT&T, Comcast, Home Depot, Northrop Grumman, KPMG, Mastercard and Micron Technology.
Teng has declined to disclose exactly how rich he is, saying only that he "has been blessed" through his work at Microsoft while crediting America for opportunities that allowed him to make that money.
Spending it to campaign "is just an opportunity for me to give back," he said. "It's almost like what they say: When more is given, more is required. And I have been given plenty. I have worked hard for it."
Disclosures show that Chaffetz raised $1,005,390 this two-year cycle and has spent $899,492. Teng generated $535,154 in receipts and has spent $507,046.