baltimoresun.com

May 17, 2011

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.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 2:51 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

May 16, 2011

Delegates push for 'lump sum' finance reform

House delegates vowed to seek limits to the amount of contributions that candidates can label as "lump sum" payments, a description that denies citizens a thorough look at campaign finances.

Maryland's campaign finance system allows candidates to bundle together contributions of under $51 without disclosing donor information. Although legal, the State Board of Elections and Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler discourage the practice.

A Baltimore Sun examination published Sunday found that heavy users of lump sum reporting logged more than $300,000 in unidentified contributions in the four-year election cycle that ended in December.

In all, candidates -- Democrats and Republicans alike from across the state -- and political action committees reported $4.3 million in lump sums, about 3 percent of all political contributions.

This year and last, the House of Delegates has passed legislation to limit lump sum reporting to $25,000 per cycle. The bills, sponsored by Del. John A. Olszewski Jr., did not make it to the Senate floor.

"What you have is a system that cuts against all that it is trying to accomplish with transparency and access to records,” Olszewski, a Baltimore County Democrat, said in an interview last week.

Continue reading "Delegates push for 'lump sum' finance reform" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:41 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

February 11, 2011

Currie's former campaign treasurer guilty of theft

Olivia Harris, the former campaign treasurer to Sen. Ulysses Currie, pleaded guilty to theft over $100,000 this afternoon in an Anne Arundel County Court, according to the Office of the State Prosecutor.

Harris withdrew $157,350 from Currie's campaign account from January 2007 to April 2010, prosecutors said. The money was spent "for personal use" according to the prosecutors, but they did not detail what she bought.

"Campaign officers are fiduciaries of the contributions that are committed to them," said State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt in a statement. "When they violate that trust, we will hold them accountable."

Harris worked as Currie's treasurer for 16 years and left her position in August shortly before she was charged. She could be imprisoned for 25 years.

Prosecutors said "there was no indication" that Currie, who once chaired senate's powerful Budget and Taxation Committee, was aware of the theft. Harris did not report the ATM withdrawals on campaign finance reports, prosecutors said, which meant the amounts in Currie's campaign account were "greatly over reported." 

Last year Currie, a Prince George's County Democrat, was indicted on federal bribery and mail fraud charges after an unrelated investigation. He relinquished his chairmanship to focus on his defense in that case, but remains in the senate.   

State prosecutors began probing Currie's campaign account after stories in The Sun showed that he was using his campaign money to pay for his federal defense attorney despite a letter from the Attorney General's office saying such use was prohibited. Currie's private attorneys disagreed, but he is now using a public defender in the federal case.



Posted by Annie Linskey at 1:58 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

January 4, 2011

Campaign finance report takes aim at slates, LLCs

A report out today calls for tighter regulations on how political slates and LLCs participate in elections, among other suggested fixes to Maryland's campaign finance system.

In the fall, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler convened a group of lawmakers and elections lawyers and officials to study campaign finance. The report released today in Baltimore makes 25 recommendations, many of which could only be implemented if the Maryland General Assembly approves.

Gansler, a Democrat who did not participate in the committee's work, called the 53-page report "more than food for thought for legislators," though he said it would be up to the Assembly to decide whether to move on any of the recommendations.

The attorney general said political slates, which can transfer unlimited amounts of money to and from anyone on them -- in effect circumventing the $4,000 per four-year-cycle donation limits -- are "particularly crying out for reform."

The report also suggests changes to laws affecting contributions by limited-liability corporations. An "LLC loophole" treats each LLC, even if owned and operated by a common person, as a separate donor, enabling politically savvy givers to avoid donation limits.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 2:00 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

November 29, 2010

O'Malley campaign report details last minute spending

Gov. Martin O'Malley poured money into polling and TV advertising in the final days of the gubernatorial campaign -- emptying out much of his sizable war chest before voters headed to the polls.

The governor, a Democrat, spent about $10 million to be re-elected, outspending former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. spent about $7 million. O'Malley beat Ehrlich by 14.5 percentage points, according to unofficial results.

In the final month O'Malley raised $791,875 from individual donors, and spent about $1.3 million, according to a detailed report of his main campaign account. Reports on two smaller accounts that he uses were still on available Monday.

* The campaign paid $185K to Dixon/Davis Media Group, the strategic communications firm based in Washington, D.C.

* Two payments, one for $42K and another for $48K, went to Peter D. Hart Research Associates, a political polling firm.

* The campaign transferred $447,000 to the O'Malley-Brown Committee slate, and used the slate account to fund their TV advertising in the final days, said Rick Abbruzzese, a campaign spokesman. He said the arrangement simplified internal accounting.

* After the votes were in on Nov. 2, the O'Malley campaign staffers headed to Little Havana in Baltimore for an after party. It cost $2,623.45, according to the campaign report.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 3:15 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

November 24, 2010

O'Malley, Ehrlich report-by-report breakdown

We just posted a story about spending in this year's governor's race. The headline numbers: Gov. Martin O'Malley outspent Republican challenger Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. by about $3 million. Together, both candidates spent about $17 million this year.

Can't get enough of the numbers? Here's a report-by-report breakdown of fundraising and spending throughout the year.

Ehrlich

RAISED
Began the year with $141,778 in the bank.
Pre-Primary-1 (covered 1/13-8/10): $3,169,863
Pre-Primary-2 (covered 8/11-8/29): $698,114
Pre-General (covered 8/30-10/17): $2,795,826
Post-General (covered 10/18-11/16): $710,417
Total raised: $7,515,998   

SPENT
PrePrim-1: $1,245,343
PrePrim-2: 129,484
Pre-Gen: $3,545,817
Post-Gen: $2,147,503
Total spent: $7,068,147  

O’Malley

RAISED
Began the year with $4,815,924 in the bank.
PrePrim-1: $2,848,728
PrePrim-2: $239,411
Pre-Gen: $1,335,542
Post-Gen: $860,176 
Total raised: $10,099,781

SPENT
PrePrim-1: $2,298,792
PrePrim-2: $418,352
Pre-Gen: $5,833,775
Post-Gen: $1,373,061
Total spent: $9,923,980  

The candidates' running mates also had campaign accounts, and O'Malley used an O'Malley-Brown slate account; those figures were not used in compiling this information.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

November 17, 2010

Gansler campaign finance group meets tomorrow

An advisory committee eyeing reforms to Maryland's campaign finance system will meet tomorrow afternoon in Baltimore. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler assembled the 10-member group this fall to examine political slates, candidate loans and other perceived loopholes in the system, with the aim of submitting legislation early next year.

This weekend, The Sun wrote about campaign finance, highlighting several situations that, while legal, tend to raise eyebrows:

On a single day in January, developer Steve Whalen used several corporations he controlled to contribute seven times the individual campaign donation limit to the eventual winner of the race for Baltimore County executive, Kevin Kamenetz.

As Election Day four years ago drew near, prominent Washington attorney John Coale loaned half a million dollars to the candidate who would become governor, Martin O'Malley.

A decade ago, Lawrence Bell, a candidate for mayor of Baltimore, spent more than $4,000 in campaign funds on suits.

The meeting at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at 200 St. Paul Place, the attorney general's office, is open to the public. Members of the public can submit written comments, though it's unlikely that the committee will listen to live testimony.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 11:44 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

November 9, 2010

Gansler commission to examine campaign finance

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, who last week appointed a commission to study campaign finance in Maryland, is seeking public input on the issue, according to a news release today from his office.

The commission of lawmakers, lawyers and elections officials is to examine the use of political slates, new media, contribution limits, loans, disclosure requirements and other matters and report back to Gansler by the end of the year. Democrats on the committee include Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Jay Walker, and Republicans are represented by Sen. Allan Kittleman and Del. Ron George.

Gansler did not include anyone from the State Prosecutor's Office on the committee, though that office prosecutes many of the campaign finance violations. Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Gansler, said that the commission is reviewing whether to revise regulations and laws and that it is "not about the prosecutorial aspect."

Complete lists of study topics and commission members appear after the jump. Guillory said Gansler's office is trying to arrange public hearings. In the meantime, citizens can submit comments on campaign finance to rbelt@oag.state.md.us by Dec. 6. Comments also can be mailed to Ru Belt at the Office of the Attorney General, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, Md., 21202.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:22 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

October 23, 2010

Ehrlich has increased media spending

Baltimore Sun colleague Julie Bykowicz reports:

Republican former Gov. Robert L Ehrlich Jr. has spent more than $2.6 million on advertising on television and other media in the past month and a half, a campaign finance report released Saturday morning shows.

Ehrlich ad buys are a dramatic increase from the much tinier amount — roughly $100,000 — he spent on advertising between April, when he anounced his election bid, and the beginning of September, the last time finance reports were made public.

By contrast, Gov. Martin O’Malley has invested steadily in media throughout the election season. From the beginning of the year through early September, the Democratic candidate spent about $1 million on advertising and other media outreach. His latest camapign finance report was’t immediately available Saturday.

Reports for all statewide and local candidates were due Friday night to the State Board of Elections. They are expected to be made public over the weekend and will provide the final look at campaign finances before Election Day.

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Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 11:20 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010, People, Political ads
        

October 22, 2010

O'Malley reports raising $1.6 million

Gov. Martin O'Malley has raised more than $1.6 million since the end of August and had about $1.1 million in the bank as of Sunday to finance the rest of his reelection bid, his campaign said Friday.

O'Malley's Republican competitor, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., outraised him by more than $1 million in that period of time.

Throughout the election season, however, the incumbent Democrat has had significantly more cash available Ehrlich -- evidenced by his dominant presence in television ads.

Ehrlich's campaign reported earlier this week that he had raised $2.8 million and had $1.7 million in the bank as of Sunday.

But the O'Malley campaign said it had purchased TV ad spaces for final two weeks, while Ehrlich apparently hadn't done so as of Sunday.

The full campaign reports are due tonight to the State Board of Elections and are to be made public tomorrow.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 5:50 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

October 19, 2010

Ehrlich reports raising $2.8 million

The Republican former governor, down in recent polls, has been raising significant amounts of campaign money, his aides say. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and running mate Mary Kane have collected more than $2.8 million since the end of August, said Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell.

The pair had about $1.77 million* left in the bank as of Sunday night, Fawell said, adding that 98 percent of the money raised came from Maryland families and small businesses and that the campaign took out no loans.

"This strong showing demonstrates that Maryland families and small businesses continue to embrace Bob Ehrlich’s vision of strong leadership to create more jobs, lower taxes, and hold the line on government spending," Fawell said in an email.

There might be a damage-control aspect to releasing the numbers this morning.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 9:22 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

September 28, 2010

Romney sends cash to Maryland Republicans

Mitt Romney, Republican former governor of Massachusetts and often-discussed 2012 presidential contender, announced today that has given money to four Maryland Republicans, including gubernatorial hopeful Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Romney's Free and Strong America political action committee sent $10,000 to Ehrlich and $2,500 each to U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and congressional candidates Andy Harris and Charles Lollar.

In a statement posted on his web site, Romney said he is "proud to stand with these candidates today." Romney's endorsements of candidates all across the country are "aimed at electing conservative candidates who will work to lower taxes and spending, restore commonsense principles to healthcare and get our economy moving again," according to his web site.

Ehrlich said in a statement that he was "honored" by the endorsement. “As an accomplished executive in both the private and public sectors, he understands that the path to economic recovery in Maryland and America begins with empowering entrepreneurs, lowering the tax burden on hardworking families, and reining in government spending. I look forward to applying these principles to state government after November’s election.” 

Romney was keynote speaker at this year's Maryland Republican Party fundraising gala. No word yet on whether he'll stump here for Ehrlich.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 4:44 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

September 22, 2010

Candidate seeks to boot Smith from BaltCo slate

Baltimore County Executive James T Smith Jr. is allowed to continue to use his campaign war chest to transfer cash to candidates for election in November, according to the State Board of Elections, even though the term-limited Smith is not on the ballot.

Steve Bailey, the Republican candidate for Baltimore County State's Attorney, said in a news release that he had asked the elections board to remove Smith, a Democrat, from the “Baltimore County Victory Slate” because he's not running for office this fall. Slates essentially allow the candidates that comprise them to transfer unlimited amounts of money to one another.

The victory slate includes Bailey’s November opponent, incumbent State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, as well as several County Council and General Assembly candidates. Bailey says donations from Smith were a big help for Shellenberger in his 2006 faceoff with Bailey. Here's a list of the candidates on the victory slate.

Smith had about $967,000 cash on hand, according to a report filed early this month, but isn't running for anything. But because Smith has an active campaign committee, he remains a candidate, according to elections officials; it doesn't matter if he's on the ballot this cycle.

“A candidate is free to choose to run for a Baltimore City, county or state office with the same authorized candidate campaign committee,” Jared DeMarinis, candidacy and campaign finance director for the elections board, wrote in a letter to Bailey. “If the term 'candidate’ was limited to filed individuals appearing on the ballot, then no candidate would be permitted to fundraise or make expenditures except after filing a certificate of candidacy.”

Bailey was not satisfied with the explanation, and said in the release that he asked Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler’s office to review the reasoning. However, a spokeswoman said the office would only weigh in if asked for advice by the elections board — which as a state agency is the attorney general’s client. Bailey could not be reached for comment.

His news release quotes attorney Jonathon Shurberg, who says, “The Board of Elections position to allow Jim Smith to participate in a slate, without filing a certificate of candidacy for public office, flies in the face of the plain language of the law. The Board of Elections interpretation creates a loophole that allows any individual, not just candidates, to circumvent the limits on campaign contributions.”

If Smith wasn't on the slate, he'd be limited to $6,000 for this election in contributions from his account to other candidates he supports.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:17 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance, In The Counties
        

September 21, 2010

RGA puts money in Maryland

The Republican Governor's Association will spend tens of thousands of dollars in the Baltimore television market this week, marking the group's debut in Maryland's hotly contested gubernatorial race and providing another sign that national Republican groups believe the GOP has a shot at picking off a Democratic governor here
 
The RGA, led by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, paid $61K for ads airing on WBAL-TV starting this morning, according to the station. (For some comparison, over the summer Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign spent about $30K a week on WBAL-TV -- a sum that bought them 50 spots on the station's news shows. However, the summer rates tend to be cheaper than the current fall fees.) We're still waiting to hear back from other stations in the Baltimore market and also a reply from a RGA spokesman who was emailed late Monday.

The cash infusion was not coordinated with GOP gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign, said spokesman Henry Fawell. However, the former governor has frequently said that the RGA would help him. He may be counting on that national money to help make up his roughly 3 to 1 cash disadvantage in the race.

The RGA has poured millions into other states with close races -- putting $4 million behind Republican Rick Scott who is squaring off against Democrat Alex Sink in Florida's governor's race, according to the Tampa Tribune. Barbour's group raised a stunning $40 million to spend on competitive gubernatorial races this season, earning the RGA lead the title of "de facto chairman of the Republican Party" according to Politico.

Barbour told the Talking Points Memo that his organization practices "ruthless targeting." He added: "We don't pay for sure winners, we don't pay for sure losers."

Meanwhile, today an O'Malley takes down an attack ad that featured footage from a Maryland Public Television pubic affairs program. The Sun today reported that the ad angered the station's executives who worried it made them appeared biased and wanted it pulled. MPT this year received $9 million in state tax dollars and did not want to appear to be a state funded organ of the governor's re-election campaign. O'Malley's team said they'd only planned on running the ad for a week and had intended to rotate in a new commercial today.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 5:30 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

September 10, 2010

Currie’s campaign treasurer accused of theft

An Anne Arundel County grand jury indicted the longtime campaign treasurer of state Sen. Ulysses Currie Friday on charges she stole more than $150,000 from his reelection campaign, filed false tax returns and lied on state campaign filings.

The treasurer, Olivia Harris, had managed Currie’s campaign account since the Prince George’s County Democrat was elected to the Senate in 1995. Her attorney, Gerard Martin, said it is a “sad day” that “this wonderful woman has to face this at this point in her career.” He declined to comment on how she will plead.

Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh said he found “no indication” that Currie, who was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in a separate bribery case, was aware or played any part in the theft scheme. The senator replaced Harris last month, days after state prosecutors raided her Upper Marlboro.

Proseuctors say Harris, 64, stole the money over three years and filed fake campaign finance reports overstating the amount of money in the account to hide the theft.

“The money in those campaign accounts is to be used for the campaign,” said Rohrbaugh in a statement. “It is not some slush fund for the personal use of those entrusted with the money — including campaign treasurers or the candidates themselves.”

Currie filed his August campaign finance disclosure report about a week late and the report showed $187,000 was drained from the account with no explanation for how the money had been spent. At the time his attorney Gregg Bernstein, who is running for Baltimore City State’s Attorney, wrote in a letter to the Board of Elections that the missing money appeared to be “the result of the treasurer’s conduct.”

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Posted by Annie Linskey at 7:17 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

September 7, 2010

Ehrlich raises more, still short of O'Malley

Political candidates rushed to turn in another round of campaign finance reports before the Labor Day weekend -- they were due before midnight Saturday -- and results have been trickling out ever since.

It was a short reporting period, just about two weeks compared to the seven months contained in the one that came out in mid-August.

Colleague Justin Fenton wrote Sunday about the amounts raised by the major gubernatorial contenders and checked in on the Baltimore state's attorney's race. And colleague Arthur Hirsch reported yesterday on this blog about the campaign finance reports in the contentious Baltimore County executive race. 

Here's the bottom line:

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 8:35 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

September 6, 2010

Campaign finance reports out for Baltimore County executive race

Sun reporter Arthur Hirsch gives us an update from the Baltimore County executive race

Baltimore County executive candidate Kevin Kamenetz has spent four times as much on advertising as his chief opponent for the Democratic nomination, Joseph Bartenfelder, according to the last campaign finance reports that will be filed before the primary next week.

Reports show that Kamenetz, 52, a county councilman from Owings Mills, has spent $969,211 on media, as compared with $243,893 for Bartenfelder, 53, a councilman from Fullerton. Also running for the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 14 primary is Ronald E. Harvey, a former county employee from Nottingham, who reported total expenses of $1,278 and a cash balance of $3,872. 

The winner will face Republican Kenneth Holt, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates who is running unopposed for his party’s nomination.

While he’s way behind in advertising spending, Bartenfelder has spent more than five times as much as Kamenetz for campaign signs, brochures and other printed materials, reflecting both a difference in resources and a different approach to the campaign. Bartenfelder’s campaign chairman, W. Michael Seganish, has said they never expected to match Kamenetz in fundraising, and have focused on using more traditional methods of posting lots of signs and relying on volunteers to get their voters out. Bartenfelder reports spending $175,987 on printing and campaign materials, compared with $33,807 for Kamenetz.

Bartenfelder  has raised $889,866 and reported a cash balance of $461,219. Kamenetz has raised $1,445,471 and reported a cash balance of $357,425.

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September 1, 2010

Currie, supermarket execs indicted

A federal grand jury in Maryland has charged the chairman of the Senate’s powerful budget panel and two former supermarket executives with bribery, extortion and other criminal offenses in an 18-count indictment, Baltimore Sun colleague Annie Linskey reports.

In announcing the charges Wednesday, prosecutors said Sen. Ulysses Currie, a Democrat, misused his influence for personal gain while helping Shoppers Food Warehouse expand in Maryland.

“Government officials cross a bright line when they accept payments in return for using the authority of their office, whether they take cash in envelopes or checks labeled as consulting payments,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.

“When businesses can obtain valuable government benefits by putting a senator on the payroll, it diminishes public confidence and disadvantages companies that refuse to go along with the pay-to-play approach.”

Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, a close ally, said in a statement that Currie has agreed to relinquish his post as the chairman of Budget and Taxation Committee, which oversees the state’s $32 billion annual spending plan. Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, the vice-chairman, will lead the committee, Miller said.

Currie’s attorney, Dale Kelberman, put out a statement saying Currie would plead not guilty to the charges.

A 15-year veteran of the Senate, Currie filed for reelection in January and faces no opposition in the primary or general election.

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Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 2:51 PM | | Comments (0)
        

August 31, 2010

Ehrlich reports raising $725K in 18 days

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich’s campaign released some preliminary campaign finance information this afternoon, saying they’ve raised $725,505 since the last reporting period 18 days ago.

They say the money has come from 3,040 donations, and say that 41 percent of the donors have never given money to their campaign before. Ehrlich’s team claims “in excess of $2.5 million” is in their bank account.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign isn’t planning to release early figures, but unless they’ve gone on some kind of wild spending spree in the last three weeks, the incumbent governor still has a significant cash advantage over his opponent. O’Malley last reported having $6.7 million cash on hand.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:58 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

August 30, 2010

Coming soon: another peek at candidate finances

The next campaign finance reports are due at the end of the week. This round will cover just two weeks -- from Aug. 11 to midnight this morning.

It's a far smaller period than the mega reports covering seven months that we wrote about extensively earlier this month. At that point, we learned that the main gubernatorial contenders raised about the same amount -- more than $3 million apiece -- this year, but have spent at different rates. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's stockpile over the past few years helped leave him with a $4.5 million advantage over Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who entered the race in April.

Still, a few interesting nuggets could be in these small new reports.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:20 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

August 19, 2010

O'Malley outraises Ehrlich; Ehrlich has more donors

Gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. submitted a campaign finance report so large it crashed The Sun’s computers and the Board of Elections had trouble e-mailing it out in the morning.

When we could open it, we learned that Ehrlich posted $3.1 million from about 18,300 donors. Incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley took in $3.3 million from roughly 7,500 donors. Read more here.

In Baltimore City, aside from the surprising Jessamy v. Bernstein fundraising results, there were some interesting reports. Bill Ferguson, a twenty-something upstart, raised $83K to mount a change to longtime incumbent Sen. George Della.

Della only raised $2,400 in the same time period – but has $55K in the bank.

The other contested Baltimore Senate race pits fairly well funded incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway ($22K in the bank) against challenger Hector Torres. Torres didn’t raise much – he only posted $7K – but he had 95 donors. Conway raised $11K from 45 people.

-- Annie Linskey

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:07 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance
        

August 17, 2010

Jim Smith campaign report shows thousands spent on research

Outgoing Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. began the year with a pile of cash – more than $1 million – and designs on a state Senate seat.

Even though Smith, a Democrat, had moved to the county's District 7 in preparation for a Senate run, he announced in June that he was opting out of the race. At the time, political observers speculated that his internal polling showed he couldn't win the seat. Smith has said his numbers were strong.

His latest campaign report reveals that he spent about $75,000 on campaign research and consultants in the final months that he was weighing a Senate run. He raised no money between Jan. 20 and Aug. 10 and has about $974,000 left in the bank, his report shows.

Smith, who is leaving the county executive office because of term limits, has vowed to stay out of the contentious battle for county his job.

Democratic county council members Joseph Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz are vying for the seat, along with Republican Ken Holt. Smith’s campaign finance report shows no sign that he’s serving up cash to either Bartenfelder or Kamenetz. But he has transferred money to one Baltimore County politician.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 5:05 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance, In The Counties
        

Howard: Ulman outraises Kittleman for exec

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, a Democrat running for re-election, has added to a sizable cash advantage over challenger Trent Kittleman this year.

Ulman reported having $713,424 on hand in campaign finance reports filed Tuesday, compared to $23,297 for Republican Trent Kittleman, who remained undaunted.

“I wish it were more,” Kittleman said, adding that “running against an entrenched incumbent in such a Democratic state puts roadblocks in the way.” But she predicted a close race in November.

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Posted by Andy Rosen at 3:12 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010, Elections, In The Counties
        

Opponent-less Gansler continues to raise money

What do you do when you have more than $2 million in your campaign coffers and no opponent in either the primary or general election?

That’s Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler’s enviable predicament.

Taking a look at his latest campaign finance report -- he got his in early – the first-term Democrat raised $261,286 between Jan. 20, the date of the previous report, and Aug. 10, the closing date of this report. He spent about $65,000, mostly on media and campaign materials, and his available cash stands at just over $2.3 million.

In March, Gansler transferred $450 to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, but he doesn’t appear to be sharing his wealth with other candidates.

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Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010
        

Campaign finance reports due at midnight

The hundreds of hopefuls for the state's 188 legislative seat, the gubernatorial contenders and the scores of people trying for local offices must submit campaign finance reports by midnight.

The State Board of Elections will make those reports public as they come in until the office closes at 5 p.m. -- so expect to wait until tomorrow morning for much of the information. Marylanders are hungry for the reports because not since January have we had a look at the finances of any candidates.

Because the reporting period closed Aug. 10, most candidates know at least basic information about how much money they have raised and how much cash they have on hand. Some have made those numbers public.

Here's what we've learned so far:

Continue reading "Campaign finance reports due at midnight" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 8:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010
        

August 13, 2010

Ehrlich raises $3.2 million,has $2 million in bank

* Updated. *

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. released his hotly anticipated campaign fundraising numbers this morning. The Republican says he has raised $3.2 million -- about the same as his chief opponent, Gov. Martin O'Malley.

O'Malley, a Democrat who began the year with $5.7 million to Ehrlich's $140,000, now has $6.7 million cash on hand, his campaign reports. Ehrlich reported this morning that he has "in excess of" $2 million in the bank.

Ehrlich said he exceeded his money-raising expectations and noted that he'd pullled in cash from more than 13,000 individual donors, 96 percent of whom live in Maryland.

O'Malley has raised money from about 13,000 donors, as well, his campaign manager, Tom Russell, says.

In a statement today, Russell trumpeted O'Malley's 3-to-1 cash advantage over Ehrlich.

"Momentum is clearly on our side," Russell said. "momentum is clearly on our side. "The Ehrlich campaign’s cash on hand number is lower than we expected to see. It appears the Ehrlich campaign suffers from the same problem that the Ehrlich administration had. They just spend too much money."

Ehrlich's campaign, based on the numbers he released, has spent more than $1 million so far, without running costly television ads. O'Malley appears to have spent more than $2 million this year. He has purchased numerous television and radio ads. Campaign reports on next week will provide details of such spending.

O'Malley released his numbers Wednesday morning, hours after the reporting period ended. The State Board of Elections will make official campiagn finance reports for all candidates -- including the hundreds of hopefuls trying for the state's 188 legislative seats -- available Tuesday.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:00 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010
        

August 12, 2010

Ehrlich to release fundraising numbers Friday

We'll have to wait at least another day to see how much money former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has raised in his bid to win back the office from Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Although Ehrlich, a Republican, said at a campaign event yesterday that he'd put out the numbers by this morning, his campaign spokesman said in an e-mail this afternoon that the information will actually come tomorrow.

O'Malley, a Democrat, released his totals on Wednesday, the morning after the campaign finance reporting period had closed. He had raised $3.3 million this year and had $6.7 million in the bank.

Asked why Ehrlich's campaign wouldn't be putting out the information today as the former governor had said, spokesman Andy Barth said in an email, "... it’s well ahead of the Tuesday deadline, it’s when we’ll have everything ready to distribute."

(On Tuesday, the Maryland Board of Elections will release official campaign finance reports for all candidates for state and local offices.)

E-mails this week to supporters indicate that Ehrlich was hoping to raise $3 million since March.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:29 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010
        

August 11, 2010

Ehrlich claims 20,000 donations; will release fundraising numbers 'soon'

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says he has amassed more than 20,000 individual contributions in his bid to unseat Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Ehrlich, a Republican, has not released campaign fundraising totals but says he will do so within the next 24 hours. This morning, O'Malley, a Democrat, said he and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown had raised more than $3.3 million in the past four months and have $6.7 million in the bank. O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell said the O'Malley-Brown ticket has more than 13,000 donors, including many who have given multiple times.

The campaign finance reporting period ended at midnight, and official numbers will be out next week. The previous report, which came out in January, months before Ehrlich made his reelection bid official, showed he had about $140,000 to O'Malley's $5.7 million.

Although Ehrlich said he wasn't ready to release his new totals, he called the amount he'd raised "pretty good." In an email earlier this week to supporters, Ehrlich said he was seeking their help in reaching $3 million raised since March.

"We hit the number we thought we'd need to hit to win the race," Ehrlich said after a campaign event this morning in Dundalk.

Ehrlich said he was "not unhappy" with the numbers that O'Malley posted, saying he'd expected him to raise more. However, the 2006 Ehrlich campaign raised $2.4 million in the same four-month period that this year's O'Malley campaign raised $3.3 million. (Sitting governors are not allowed to raise money during the January-April legislative session.) The state has more than double the number of registered Democrats as Republicans.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010
        

O'Malley raises $3.3m, has $6.7m in bank

Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown raised $3.3 million in the last four months, and now have more than $6.7 in cash on hand for their reelection bid, their campaign announced Wednesday.

Maryland candidates are required to report how much they raised through midnight Wednesday, but the reports are not made public until next week. We are working on getting numbers from Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and running mate Mary Kane.

O'Malley and Brown, who were handicapped by a prohibition on fundraising until after the legislative session ended in April, have raised more than they had through the same point in 2006, when they faced no such impediment. In August 2006, O'Malley reported raising $3 million, with $4.4 million in cash on hand. With Brown's account included, the total was $5.1 million.

Interestingly, the O'Malley-Brown campaign release refers not only to Ehrlich, but also to Brian Murphy, the Republican longshot who received some attention last week with a surprise endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Clearly, the O'Malley-Brown campaign doesn't mind giving Ehrlich's GOP challenger a little promotion, as well.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 11:20 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010
        

August 10, 2010

Md. candidates plead for cash as deadline looms

It's not just Cinderella watching the clock today. The stroke of midnight marks the end of a critical fundraising period for Maryland politicians.

Not since January has the public had a look at campaign finances. The reporting period that ends today will show how much a candidate has been able to raise since announcing a run for office, becoming official and diving into election season. This camapign finance report, which will become public in a week, is one way to measure just how serious a candidate is.

The major candidates for governor, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., seem to understand the importance of today's deadline and have flooded supporters with last-minute requests for cash.

Continue reading "Md. candidates plead for cash as deadline looms" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 4:45 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Campaign finance, Candidate Watch 2010, Elections
        
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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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