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Strip clubs wage $170K effort in Scottsdale

Scottsdale, Arizona- Scottsdale’s two strip clubs have contributed more than $200,000 to their Proposition 401 campaign and are vastly outspending their opposition in the fight against stricter regulations.

The pre-primary campaign finance report filed Thursday stated the political committee representing Babe’s Cabaret – which is partially owned by adult-film mogul Jenna Jameson – and Skin Cabaret has collected $219,831 and spent $169,999 through Aug. 23. The donations are equally split between the clubs, and no other group or individual has contributed to the No on 401 campaign.

“When you figure the value of those businesses, what would you spend to save your business?” said Lamar Whitmer, a consultant for the clubs. “I don’t think it’s a question of buying the election, it’s a question of trying to stave off inappropriate government action.”

The clubs’ amount is far greater than the $6,816 collected and $2,634 spent by Yeson401.com, whose report was filed Tuesday. The committee received $2,000 from the Center for Arizona Policy – the Christian conservative group that has anchored the coalition since its inception – and a handful of private donations.

Other major donors were James and Joan Skelly at $1,000, Larry and Amy Beckner at $1,000 and Messinger Mortuary and Chapel at $500. Mortuary owner and former Scottsdale Councilman Paul Messinger was an early endorser of Prop. 401.

“We don’t expect the huge checks to roll in, but every dollar we receive will be thrown into the campaign to win it,” said Peter Gentala, general counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy.

As for his opposition, Gentala said: “This shows they are making an expensive power play in Scottsdale.”

The election is Sept. 12. If Prop. 401 is approved, new regulations will go into effect at Babe’s, 2011 N. Scottsdale Road, and Skin, 1137 N. Scottsdale Road, that will require a 4-foot space between patrons and seminude dancers. Club owners say the ban on lap dances and the removal of tables adjacent to the stage will drive them out of business.

According to the campaign finance reports, the clubs have spent their money on television commercials, newspaper ads, campaign literature and consulting.

Yeson401.com has spent its money primarily on signs and a phone message that featured the voice of Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas. The clubs have $49,832 in the bank, while Yeson401.com has $4,181.

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