Special interests have flooded Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, with $75,000 in cash during the past week for his primary election against GOP challenger Jason Chaffetz — coming as Cannon's campaign was nearly broke and owed $132,500 to vendors.

That late money includes donations that may bring negative political baggage, such as $2,500 from the National Beer Wholesalers Association to nondrinker, LDS Church member Cannon. Some may show helpful endorsements, such as $5,000 from a political action committee formed by Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah.

"We've said all along that we would have enough money to run this campaign," said Ryan Frandsen, Cannon's campaign manager. "And no special (donation) pitches are being made. It is a serious challenge" by Chaffetz, Frandsen said.

Cannon may end up after Tuesday's primary with bills due but not a great deal of money. Cannon should be able to take care of that debt, Frandsen added.

As of Thursday, Cannon reported $75,000 in donations received after he had filed his pre-primary financial report with the Federal Election Commission a week ago. That's nearly as much as Chaffetz has raised in his total primary campaign — from the mid-May state GOP convention to the June 24 election.

Federal law requires reporting any late donations of $1,000 or more to the FEC within 48 hours of receipt after that pre-election report has been filed. Chaffetz has raised only $8,000 in late-money contributions, his 48-hour reports show.

Cannon's pre-primary report also showed a bit of a cash squeeze, which the new donations relieve.

Cannon pre-primary disclosure showed only $9,259 in cash on hand — but $132,500 in unpaid bills to vendors, including $88,000 for printing, $17,000 for advertising and $15,000 for polling. Cannon, a millionaire, also reported owing another $138,000 in personal loans to himself from his 2006 campaign.

Campaigns don't have to report new debt from the pre-primary report to election day, but Frandsen said since most entities — like a radio station or printer — require political campaigns to pay upfront for services, "we're not incurring much debt" now.

The $75,000 in late money amounts to about 10 percent of the nearly $728,000 that he has now reported raising this two-year election cycle.

Political action committees provided $67,000 of the late cash. Some of the more interesting donations include $2,500 from the National Beer Wholesalers, $5,000 from SNOWPAC (a leadership PAC formed by Bennett), $2,500 from the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers and $5,000 from EnergySolutions, a hazardous waste firm with a landfill in Utah's west desert.

Some other large donations from PACs included $5,000 each from AT&T, Marriott International and KPMG Partners.

The new report shows Cannon also received $8,000 in donations from individuals — with $3,000 of that coming from lobbyists.

Meanwhile, Chaffetz's campaign was debt-free, which he has ballyhooed in campaign appearances. When his pre-primary report was filed a week ago, he reported no debts and more than $65,000 in cash on hand.

Since then, he has reported receiving another $8,524 in late cash. The lion's share of it — $5,224 — has come from Team America, a group that opposes illegal aliens.

Including the late money, Chaffetz has reported raising just over $107,000. Chaffetz says he's made a point of running a debt-free campaign. And while Cannon has loaned his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past, Chaffetz gave his campaign around $10,000 so far. "That is a gift, not a loan, on purpose," Chaffetz recently told the Deseret News. "I refuse to loan my campaign money and then go to lobbyists and ask them so I can line my pockets with their money."

Bennett's last-minute donation to Cannon comes after Bennett and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, watched a bit stunned at the Utah Republican State Convention last month. Cannon survived the convention by a mere nine delegate votes, with Chaffetz almost winning the GOP nomination outright and avoiding a primary.

Bennett, who told the Deseret News at that convention he would run again in 2010, said considering the anti-incumbent feeling by some hardcore Republicans, he wondered about winning the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in two years.

At a Deseret News editorial meeting several weeks ago, Hatch spoke for more than 10 minutes about how great Cannon is and how Utah Republicans would be crazy to kick him out of office now — after Cannon's years of "effective" work on behalf of 3rd District constituents.

The political action committee run by Hatch, who has not yet announced whether he'll run again in 2012, has also given Cannon $5,000.

Meanwhile, former state Rep. Matt Throckmorton, who challenged Cannon in 2004 and was defeated in the GOP primary, has formally endorsed Cannon. Throckmorton says Cannon has worked hard on the illegal immigration issues (putting Throckmorton on a task force that Cannon organized), adding that Cannon may not be the best speaker in the world, but is doing a good job as a conservative congressman.


E-mail: lee@desnews.com; bbrj@desnews.com