Dixon's sister loaned her $15,000
According to state campaign finance records, Mayor Sheila Dixon's sister loaned her campaign account $15,000 on May 6, 2008. The campaign paid her back the $15,000 on November 15, 2008, and Janice Dixon forgave $332.88 in interest the same day. (That's counted as an in-kind contribution.)
Annie Linskey reports this morning that the Dixon campaign isn't answering questions about the loan. She quotes Hopkins political scientist Matt Crenson puzzling over the matter: "Why would she need it now? She is not up for election for another three years. I can't imagine why she would need loans from anybody."
Looking through her campaign finance records, it appears she blew through quite a bit of money in the first five months of 2008 given that she didn't have an election coming up. On Jan. 18, 2008, Dixon reported having $79,151.38 on hand. Between then and the date of the loan, she spent $83,024.79, most of it ($51,526.45) going to Rice Consulting LLC of Bel Air for fundraising expenses. During that time, she reported contributions of $2,105.71. (Things picked up shortly thereafter, and Dixon raised nearly $30,000 between then and the end of June.)
Fundraising is looking like a pretty expensive proposition for Mayor Dixon. In the last year, she's paid Rice $96,058.12 (a figure that includes both the firm's fee and expenses for the fundraisers) and has raised about $180,000 in contributions, less than a 2-1 ratio. In the same reporting period, Gov. O'Malley paid his fundraising consultant, Colleen Martin-Lauer, $30,418.96 and raised $194,000, better than a 6-1 ratio.
Update: A little further digging finds that Rice Consulting also does Jim Smith's fundraising. Last year, he paid the firm $46,271.52 and raised about $602,000. That's a 13-1 ratio. Again, these figures don't necessarily say anything about how much the fundraising consultants are charging but does give a hint about the overall efficiency of the operations. President Obama's internet fundraising machine, for example, is famous for bringing in tons of money with little or no outlay of cash. The traditional model of renting out a banquet hall and springing for an open bar and hors d'ouvre can be quite pricey, especially depending on how many people you get to show up for your big fancy events.