Del. Liz Bobo 'proud' of her lump sum contributions
Del. Liz Bobo -- who has fought for increased campaign finance disclosure -- reported $12,819 in contributions from undisclosed donors over the four-year election cycle that ended in December.
The Howard County Democrat told The Sun's Larry Carson that she sees no contradiction between her reform efforts and her practice of labeling money as lump sums.
“I don’t call this a loophole,” she said, noting the lump sums are associated with a once-a-year picnic. “I’m proud of those contributors. I don’t see a risk.”
Bobo told Carson she prefers financing her campaigns through small amounts of money from "everyday" people, rather than through bigger sums from developers, lawyers, builders and consultants.
Carson followed up with Bobo after her name appeared on a list of the 12 highest individual users of lump sum reporting that accompanied a Sunday story in The Sun. The State Board of Elections discourages candidates from designating anything as a lump sum, and Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has taken issue with the practice.
The rest of Carson's piece about Bobo appears after the jump.
Some may have been surprised to see Bobo’s name among those listed in a Baltimore Sun story Sunday about elected officials who report small donations lumped together as one contribution on their state campaign finance reports. The story, by reporter Julie Bykowicz, called the practice a loophole, but Bobo, a champion of campaign finance reform, said she’s proud of her inclusion on the list and wasn’t surprised at all.
“I don’t call this a loophole,” she said. “I’m proud of those contributors. I don’t see a risk.” Bobo said she strives to collect those small amounts to finance her campaigns with donations from everyday voters, rather than the big developers, lawyers, builders and consultants who foot much of the bill for many other candidates.
“All of mine come from my once a year picnic,” she said.”I know these people.”
As a legislator who has annually sponsored a bill to close a frequently used corporate campaign finance loophole, Bobo said the problem isn’t small contributors, but big business owners who give the maximum $4,000 to a candidate from each of numerous limited liability corporations they control.
“We know that’s being abused,” Bobo said. The bill has been approved by the House of Delegates several times, but the Maryland Senate has killed it.
Maryland is one of 49 states that allows candidates to lump small contributors, in this case those who give less than $51, into one sum on a campaign finance report. The candidates are required to keep records of who these contributors are, but don’t have to disclose the contributors’ names on the reports. Bykowicz reported that $4.3 million was accounted for this way during the four-year 2010 campaign cycle. That included including $12,819 for Bobo, the 11th-highest number in the state.
Nevertheless, if the General Assembly decides to change the law to require that every contributor, no matter how small, be listed on reports, Bobo said she would “absolutely” vote for it.
This year, Bobo did vote for Del John A. Olszewski Jr.’s bill that would limit lump sum reporting to $25,000 per cycle. She doesn’t accept cash anyway, she said, and every donor is listed in her own computer records. Bobo has traditionally not raised large amounts of money for her House campaigns, relying on a core of devoted supporters for financial support.
Her last report in January showed her with $22,865 left in the bank after beating a primary challenger and easily winning re-election in single-member District 12B in west Columbia.