OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Current Congressman Don Bacon and Democratic challenger Kara Eastman don’t agree on much, including how their campaigns should be funded. In 2018, Eastman pledged to not accept corporate PAC money, something less than two percent of congress members were doing at the time.
“We need to change the system where corporations don’t have so much influence on our decisions,” said Eastman.
Bacon takes a more traditional approach with most of his contributions coming from PACs and large individual contributions.
“You know these businesses involve people. You know they’re either the owners or the employees that put into these PACs and they’re going to want folks that want to grow the economy,” said Bacon.
While Eastman doesn’t take corporate PAC money, she has received $201,982 from ideological PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“If Don Bacon is taking money from the fossil fuel industry and strangely enough, voting against renewable energy or promoting fossil fuels, there’s a direct tie there. Let’s say we get endorsed by a group that’s promoting women’s rights. Well, I’m always going to stand up for women’s rights, so there’s a difference there. It is a difference of bottom line. So groups that are ideologically aligned will endorse me because I agree with them. That doesn’t mean I’m going to do what they tell me to do,” said Eastman.
Eastman and Bacon both receive most of their campaign funding from large individual contributions of more than $200. However, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bacon’s second-largest contributor is PACs. Eastman, on the other hand, receives about a third of her funding from small donations of $200 or less.
Refusing money from corporate PACs, more than 80 percent of Eastman’s donations come from individuals. Bacon is quick to point out a majority of Eastman’s donations come from out of state.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, roughly 25 percent of Eastman’s donations came from Nebraska. Roughly half of Bacon’s donations came from Nebraska.
But this data paints only part of the picture.
Small donations are not itemized in Federal Election Commission reports. Organizations like the Center for Responsive Politics have no data on what state Eastman’s $1,191,706 or Bacon’s $321,079 in small donations came from. Eastman provided the 3 News Now I-Team with an itemized report of all the donations she received from Nebraskans. It added up to nearly $867,000. That’s about 73 more of those small contributions.
3 News Now requested Bacon’s team provide the same information. The Bacon campaign declined. Not including Bacon’s small donations, Bacon’s in-state donations add up to $812,688, nearly $55,000 less than Eastman’s $867,000. If more than 17 percent of Bacon’s small contributions come from Nebraska, he’d outraise Eastman on total in-state dollars.
Geography aside, both candidates agree many people who live outside of Nebraska are invested in this race. Eastman and Bacon have raised more money than all the candidates in districts one and three have raised combined.
Even more money has gone into this election from outside the campaigns themselves. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside sources have spent more than $11 million. A majority of that money is spent opposing the two candidates.
To see which PACs are donating to each campaign, click on the links below: