Political newcomer among leaders in campaign fundraising for legislature

Paulina Pineda//July 23, 2018

Political newcomer among leaders in campaign fundraising for legislature

Paulina Pineda//July 23, 2018

Political newcomer Aaron Lieberman, a Democrat running for the House in Legislative District 28, far out raised the competition in just 30 days.

Lieberman, a first-time candidate, reported raising $127,284 from more than 180 contributors since he started collecting campaign contributions on June 1, according to his campaign finance report filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Not only is that more than what the three other candidates in the LD28 House race raised during the second quarter of 2018, it’s also more than what was raised by any other legislative candidate during the same time period.

To date, only incumbents Kate Brophy McGee, Heather Carter, Sean Bowie, Karen Fann, Vince Leach, and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, who all launched their campaigns months before Lieberman did, have raised more money than him.

Aaron Lieberman
Aaron Lieberman

Campaign finance reports for the second quarter of 2018, which spans April 1 to June 30, were due July 16.

Lieberman’s campaign coffers were heavily bolstered by out-of-state contributions from a large built-in national fundraising network of people in the education and health fields in which he used to work.

Lieberman, whose background is in early childhood education, started an early childhood education nonprofit called Jumpstart with three others during his time at Yale. The organization provides language and literacy programming to preschool-aged children in underserved communities in 14 states and Washington, D.C.

Following his time at Jumpstart, Lieberman started his own company, Acelero Learning, which helps communities run Head Start programs.

He also served as the CEO of the Phoenix Spine Surgery Center, which his brother owns, for two years, and he now works as a consultant for various education organizations.

Lieberman said the relationships he built during his time at these organizations helped boost his fundraising numbers.

“I spent 20 years working closely with a broad group of people to help improve the lives of underserved families. I reached out to that group, close friends and relatives, told them this is what I’m working on now and they were more than willing to help based on my track record,” he said.

Out-of-state contributions include a $5,100 contribution from Melissa Polaner, executive director of iMentor NYC, a volunteer mentoring organization, and a $5,000 contribution from Steven Dow, executive director of CAP Tulsa, an early childhood education group.

Lieberman also received sizable contributions from valley contributors, including $5,100 from Matthew Pittinsky, CEO of Scottsdale-based Parchment Inc., which provides transcripts, diplomas and certificates digitally; $4,000 from relative Amy Lieberman, a social worker at a local school district, and $2,550 each from physicians Yara Vargas Ortiz and Tutankhamen Pappoe.

He also raised $18,700 through personal and family contributions, including $5,100 he self-funded.

Lieberman moves into the next reporting period with $119,041 on hand after spending $8,242.

Kathy Petsas, a Republican candidate for the House in LD28,  who began collecting campaign contributions just a few weeks before Lieberman, reported raising $53,965, including $10,600 she funneled into her campaign coffers, during the second quarter.

Petsas reported receiving $2,750 from political action committees, including $500 each from the Cox Political Action Committee, Realtors of AZ PAC and the Arizona Chapter of NAIOP Inc AZPAC.

Her biggest contributions came from family members John Pappas, who contributed $5,100, Angeline Pappas, who contributed $4,500, and Nicholas Petsas, who contributed $1,000.

After spending $8,104, Petsas is left with $45,860 on hand.

Incumbent Reps. Kelli Butler, D-Paradise Valley, and Maria Syms, R-Paradise Valley, reported raising $30,031 and $20,105, respectively, during the second quarter of 2018.

To date, Butler has raised $103,749 while Syms has raised $87,011. They move into the primary election with $76,772 and $64,048 on hand, respectively.