The three members of a political slate backed by a majority of the Costa Mesa City Council is leading in campaign donations, public records show.
In overall campaign funding, Planning Commission Chairman Colin McCarthy led with more than $20,000 in his war chest at the end of June, according to campaign finance disclosures released by the city clerk.
Councilman Steve Mensinger was not far behind, with $17,500.
In a distant third on the so-called "3M Slate" was Councilman Gary Monahan, who has raised about $4,600 through the first half of the year.
Each is seeking to fill one of three open council seats in the November election.
McCarthy had nearly 30 contributors, with just more than half coming from within Costa Mesa. He also gave his campaign a $10,500 loan, about half of his campaign financing so far.
Mensinger had 42 contributors, with roughly half coming from Costa Mesa residents and the other half from outside the city.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Jeff Mathews, who is expected to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission, donated $1,000 to both the McCarthy and Mensinger campaigns, according to the records.
On June 12, Mathews donated $1,000 to McCarthy's campaign.
On July 9, McCarthy led a 3-1 vote to recommend to the council that Mathews fill a Planning Commission seat Jim Fitzpatrick vacated earlier in the year.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version incorrectly reported that the vote was held June 9.
Both men said there was no relationship between the timing of the legal campaign contribution and the appointment recommendation — just a shared political vision.
"Absolutely not," Mathews said when asked if there was a correlation, adding that he publicly supports the "3M" slate.
"[The donation] had nothing to do with recommending him for the seat," McCarthy added Friday. "He was by far the most qualified."
During discussion at the June 9 meeting, Mathews topped each commissioner's short list to fill the seat. He has been involved in several city groups, including most recently heading the city's Homeless Task Force.
Mathews made his $1,000 donation to Mensinger's reelection campaign June 30.
The council will vote on Mathews' appointment Tuesday.
A slate of candidates opposed to the council majority, which is reviewing outsourcing plans opposed by city employees, was still getting started in June, the latest period for which records are available.
That ticket is backed by a bipartisan, grass-roots group, Costa Mesans for Responsible Government, or CM4RG.
Slate leader John Stephens, a lawyer, reported $4,120 in campaign donations, but ended June with about $1,100 left in his fund.
Businessman Harold Weitzberg reported a single $250 donation, along with a $1,000 loan to himself through his business. His campaign ended June with $734.90.
Former Mayor Sandy Genis filed her political action committee papers a few weeks ago. She has yet to have her paperwork formally approved, and therefore has not filed any reportable contributions.
However, the community group's overall coffers are growing.
The CM4RG political action committee has taken in about $6,300 in campaign donations this year; it ended June with $3,152 in its fund. The group had about 20 contributors so far this year, including donations from Weitzberg.
Each candidate on its slate is a member.
Lester, Melone, Krupp
Sue Lester, a medicinal marijuana advocate who is not running on either slate, had about $600 in her campaign fund.
Candidate and retired certified public accountant Al Melone, who is also running independently, has yet to establish a political action committee.
A third candidate, business consultant Marshall Krupp, dropped out of the race earlier this week. He had raised $50, a loan to himself.
Krupp declined to endorse any of the other candidates in the race.
In other filings, the Orange County Cannabis Alliance received about $44,100 in donations in 2012. It spent nearly $27,000 in polling and petitioning.
Earlier this week, the group submitted more than 6,700 signatures to the city clerk to get an initiative on the November ballot that would legalize nonprofit marijuana dispensaries in the city.