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Inside City Hall: Council members raised more than $300,000 in 2013

Almost without exception, contributions come from people and groups who don’t live in a member’s district. The Brew’s special report on “Money and Politics in Baltimore” continues.

Above: The City Hall chambers where the Council meets.

For an off-election year, the 14 members of the Baltimore City Council collected an impressive $304,831 in campaign cash in 2013.

Combined with prior fundraising dollars, Council members collectively control slightly under $460,000 for use in the next (2016) election, The Brew’s review of disclosure reports filed with the Maryland Board of Elections found.

This figure excludes the money raised by City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

The cash amassed by Council members averages out to $9.28 for each of the 49,463 people who voted in the last city election.

There is little correlation, however, between those who vote for Council members and those who give them money.

Almost without exception, Council dollars come primarily from people who do not live in a member’s district. And the overwhelming majority of this “outside” money is contributed from those with mailing addresses in Baltimore County and other surrounding jurisdictions.

Official portrait of Baltimore City Council.  First row center is

Official portrait of Baltimore City Council. At center is the “15th member,” City Council President Jack Young, whose campaign funds will be the subject of a separate Brew story.

Take the case of East Baltimore’s Warren Branch and West Baltimore’s Helen Holton and William “Pete” Welch.

On page after page of their disclosure reports, the Council members listed people and groups with addresses in Owings Mills, Pikesville, Lutherville and Columbia – as well as (in Holton’s case) Washington, D.C., Beaumont, Texas, Clifton, N.J., Kingston, Pa., and Englewood, Colo.

Many of the contributors were developers of federally-subsidized “affordable” housing in the city. The trio also received generous support from liquor interests with direct stakes in Council legislation (e.g., the body is deliberating a major zoning re-write that could put about 100 “non-conforming” liquor stores out of business).

The Korean American Coalition for Fair Zoning handed out $7,000 in campaign contributions to six Council members – and also hired super-lobbyist Lisa Harris Jones to represent them in the zoning matter.

Lisa Jones picked up $14,750 last year lobbying the City Council on behalf of The Korean American Coalition, while her lobbyist-husband, Sean Malone, reported earning the same amount ($14,750) lobbying for Baltimore’s Association of Liquor Stores and Taverns. This from the disclosure forms the pair recently filed with the City Ethics Board.

Beatty lavished funds on mayor and City Council as they lavished tax credits on Harbor Point (3/18/14)
Councilmen say why they accepted donations from developer Beatty (3/24/14)
Cole brings home the bucks (3/26/14)
A silent Councilman speaks volumes in his campaign report (4/14/14)

When actual residents were found on the financial forms of Branch, Welch and Holton, the contribution were usually in the range of $30 – compared to the $250-to-$1,000 checks handed over by real estate and liquor interests, lawyers, lobbyists, contractors and businessmen.

Where the Action is

Another clear pattern from the records: the biggest contributions are headed for upscale harbor neighborhoods.

Three councilmen who represent neighborhoods that abut the waterfront – Bill Cole, Jim Kraft and Ed Reisinger – raised 47% of the total Council largess last year. That’s $144,161 of the $304,831 total.

For Cole and Reisinger, a high percentage of funds came from business interests investing in their districts. In Kraft’s case, many more contributions came from his own constituents.

Moving away from the harbor, the amount of contributions drop off significantly. In fact, veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke raised nothing last year, while Northeast’s Bob Curran ended the year with exactly $0.00 in his campaign coffers.

Here’s a detailed look at the flow of money to the Council, in order of magnitude from the biggest to smallest cash recipient.

NOTE: Maryland law limits maximum individual contributions to $4,000 for a single candidate over the full election cycle. Thus, a $1,000 contribution last year (with additional $1,000 yearly contributions before the 2016 city election) would add up to the maximum $4,000.


Bill Cole

Bill Cole

Represents 11th District, central and south
Funds raised: $64,440
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $121,462
Interesting tidbits: Martin-Lauer Associates, the fundraiser used by Gov. Martin O’Malley and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was paid $4,836 by Cole’s campaign last year. His campaign chair is Paul O’Malley, the governor’s brother.

Some top contributors: SEIU’s Political Action Committee ($3,000), Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police ($1,000), Baltimore Parking Authority chairman Peter E. Auchincloss ($1,000), entities controlled by Caves Valley Partners ($1,000), Arsh Mirmiran, partner in Caves Valley Partners ($1,000), parking garage operator Benjamin Greenwald ($1,000), developer David S. Brown Enterprises ($1,000), Maple Lawn/Bozzuto Group ($1,000), Cowboys and Rednecks Pub ($1,000), Kaine Investments ($1,000), TD Development ($1,000), ex-Rawlings-Blake spokesman Ryan O’Doherty ($200), liquor store lobbying group The Korean American Coalition for Fair Zoning ($500); former Congresswoman, now consultant Helen Delich Bentley ($200).

We reported more on Cole’s fundraising prowess here.

Represents 10th District, southwest and south
Funds raised: $40,650
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $11,868
Interesting tidbits: Paid $4,754 to Martin-Lauer Associates and transferred $6,000 to “Friends of Marilyn Mosby,” a client of Martin-Lauer and wife of Councilman Nick Mosby.

Ed Reisinger (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Ed Reisinger

Reisinger chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee that is reviewing zoning laws, including the “Alcohol Outlet Density Reduction” plan. A former tavern operator himself, Reisinger recently said he was seeking a compromise for non-conforming liquor stores.

Some top contributors: Korean American Coalition for Fair Zoning ($1,500); Cherry Hill Liquors ($500); concrete construction contractor Daniel Schuster ($2,000); “Wrecking Czar” Gerald W. Berg ($1,000); Harbor Point’s Beatty Development Group ($500); real estate lawyers Ballard Spahr ($500); former 1st Mariner Bank chairman Ed Hale ($500); consultant and ex-O’Malley aide Stephen Kearney ($500); Frankford Towng ($250); Pierce J. Flanigan IV, president of road paver P. Flanigan & Sons ($250), Stericycle, an Illinois-based medical waste disposer ($500).

Represents 1st District, southeast
Funds raised: $39,071
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $99,805

Jim Kraft

Jim Kraft

Interesting tidbits: Kraft raised more than a third of his donations from his constituents. Next to no contributions reported from liquor interests. Paid $1,500 to a member of his City Hall staff as a campaign consultant.

Some top contributors: Beacon Stevedoring Corp. ($2,000); Fraternal Order of Police ($2,000); International Union of Painters and Allied Trades ($2,500), former 1st Mariner Bank chairman Ed Hale ($1,000), Beatty Development Group and Michael Beatty ($1,000); Cambridge Iron & Metal ($1,000); 1st District resident Frank Scarfield ($2,000), Newkirk LLC/Crown Business Center ($1,500), Kaine Investments ($1,000), TD Development ($1,000); Tindeco Wharf ($500), Maple Lawn/Bozzuto Group ($500)

Represents 13th District: middle east and northeast
Funds raised: $26,400
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $13,909

Warren Branch

Warren Branch

Interesting tidbits: Largest single recipient of liquor-interest contributions (nearly $7,000). Member of Council committee reviewing zoning changes that could affect more than a dozen non-conforming liquor stores in his district.

Some top contributors: Korean American Coalition for Fair Zoning ($3,000), New Q’s Liquors ($2,000), K&C Big Bill’s Liquors ($400), concrete construction contractor Daniel Schuster ($3,000), ex-Baltimore City School Board Chairman Brian Morris ($1,000), RAM Contracting ($1,000), Jackson Haden, owner of Baltimore Recycling Center on Edison Highway ($2,000), real estate lawyers Ballard Spahr ($500), Beatty Development Group ($500), Baltimore Fire Officers Local 964 ($500), Korean American Grocers/Kagro ($500), developer Kenneth R. Banks ($500).

Represents 9th District: inner west
Funds raised: $24,900
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $29,555

Pete Welch

Pete Welch

Interesting tidbits: A former Liquor Board commissioner, Welch leans heavily on packaged goods stores, taverns and related interests in his district and elsewhere.

Some top contributors: Emmanuel Tire Co., a West Baltimore tire recycler ($4,000), Korean American Coalition for Fair Zoning ($1,000), Korean American Grocers ($500), longtime video slot machine operator John Zorzit ($1,000), strip club manager Kenneth A. Bird through Four One Four LLC ($700), kitchen renovator AU Granite & Marble ($2,000), Harbor Point Development/Michael Beatty ($500).

More here on Welch’s contributors.

Represents 7th District: inner northwest
Funds raised: $23,910
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $1,488

Nick Mosby

Nick Mosby

Interesting tidbits: Paid large sum ($8,201) last year to Martin-Lauer Associates. Transferred $6,000 to wife Marilyn Mosby’s political committee for her run for Baltimore state’s attorney against incumbent Gregg Bernstein.

Some top contributors: CVPR Gaming, an investor in the Horseshoe Baltimore Casino ($500); developer Guerilla Architecture ($1,000); Pennrose Development ($500); Gov. O’Malley’s longtime campaign treasurer Martin F. Cadogan ($1,000); Fraternal Order of Police ($500); contractor John Diakoulas ($1,000); property investor Capital T Partners of Rockville, Md. ($1,000)


Carl Stokes

Carl Stokes

Representing 12th District: inner east and north
Funds raised: $21,925
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $76,794
Interesting tidbits: An outspoken critic of tax breaks to Harbor Point developer Michael Beatty, Stokes received a $1,000 contribution from former Beatty partner, John Paterakis, last November 15. The contribution came through the Paterakis entity, HELP I LLC.

Some top contributors: K&C Big Bill’s Liquor ($1,500), New Q’s Liquors ($1,000), J&K Joy Liquors ($500), American Beverage Association ($1,000), parking garage operator Benjamin Greenwald ($1,000), RAM Contracting ($1,000), a subsidiary of developer and casino owner David Cordish ($1,000), developer Carl W. “Bill” Struever ($250), Active Ballot Club/United Food & Commercial Workers Union ($1,500), Clear Channel outdoor advertising ($500), developer Woda Group ($250).

Representing 2d District: outer east
Funds raised: $18,860
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $20,546

Brandon Scott

Brandon Scott

Interesting tidbits: Unlike his Eastside colleagues Branch and Stokes, Scott reported no liquor interest money.

Some top contributors: Frederick Obrecht commercial properties ($2,000), heating contractor Coldspring ($1,000), Nyberg, Fletcher & White promotional products ($1,000), olive oil maker Pompeian ($1,000), City Union of Baltimore Local 800 ($500), Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council ($500), Harbor Point Development ($500), Pennrose Properties ($500), Fraternal Order of Police ($500).


Rikki Spector

Rikki Spector

Representing 5th District: outer northwest
Funds raised: $12,418
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $18,974

Interesting tidbits: Spector’s biggest donor is the owner of the waterfront building where she lives, far from the 5th District, with her boyfriend.

Some top contributors: Harborview Properties through subsidiaries Pierside and SG Investors ($1,000), Rukert Terminals Corp. ($500),  Jason Reitberger ($500), McAllister Towing ($200), Harold Reznick ($500), Helen Delich Bentley ($100).


Helen Holton

Helen Holton

Represents 8th District: far west
Funds raised: $12,081
Cash balance as of January 2014: $10,860
Interesting tidbits: Holton raised nearly all of her funds from outside interests. At her main fundraiser last year – a breakfast at the Forest Park Golf Club – three parties served as $1,000 hosts: PMS Parking mogul Amsale Geletu, Korean American Coalition for Fair Zoning, and Prince George’s County lobbyists, The Proctor Group.

Some top contributors: Lawyer/lobbyist Frank Boston III ($500); CH2M Hill, an engineering firm expected to bid on the city’s Fullerton Water Treatment Plant ($500); Clear Channel, the outdoor advertiser ($500); Clayton Mayfield, a Texas-based lawyer specializing in delinquent property tax collections ($500); Pennrose Development, lead developer of Uplands, the urban renewal project in Holton’s district ($500); Stanley Fine, lawyer for CBAC Gaming ($250). Holton also received six liquor store contributions totaling $1,000.


Sharon Green Middleton

Sharon Green Middleton

Represents 6th District: middle northwest
Funds raised: $9,925
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $34,524
Interesting tidbits: The majority of her campaign funds comes from local unions. Her husband, Glen Middleton, is executive director of AFSCME Council 67.

Some top contributors: AFSCME ($2,000), City Union of Baltimore Local 800 ($1,000), wife of Bert Hash, CEO of Baltimore Municipal Employees Credit Union ($500), labor law firm Myers & Proctor ($1,000), Julius Colon, president and CEO of Park Heights Renaissance ($500), lawyer-lobbyist Frank D. Boston III ($500), Baltimore Parking Authority Chairman Peter E. Auchincloss ($250).


Bill Henry

Bill Henry

Represents 4th District: upper north
Funds raised: $9,475
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $8,366
Interesting tidbits: Is running this year to unseat Sen. Joan Carter Conway in the 43rd Legislative District partly on platform of reforming liquor board regulation. Hobbled by lack of funding vis a vis Conway’s $100,000-plus political war chest.

Some top contributors: Fraternal Order of Police ($1,000), AFSCME ($400), Murphy’s Bar & Grill ($500), former Under Armour executive J. Scott Plank ($250), Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse ($250), Fraley Corp. of Pasadena ($600), Ben Frederick Realty ($500), Cave Valley Partners ($150).


Bob Curran

Bob Curran

Represents 3rd District: upper northeast
Funds raised: $650
Cash balance as of Jan. 2014: $0.00
Interesting tidbits: Curran, who filed for personal bankruptcy last June, has outstanding campaign debts to fundraiser Martin-Lauer ($1,500) and Bromwell Press ($3,904) dating from 2011. He’s been a councilman for 18 years – and his family has represented northeast Baltimore since 1953.

Only contributors: Property manager Harford Associates ($500) and American Minority Contractors ($150).


Mary Pat Clarke

Mary Pat Clarke

Representing 14th District: middle north and east
Funds raised: $126
Cash balance as of Jan 2014: $10,876
Interesting tidbits: Veteran councilwomen took a leave of absence from fundraising last year.

Only contributors: Two small citizen contributions  – plus $1.13 in bank interest – equaled the $126.13 Clarke reported in campaign income last year.

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