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Politicsby Mark Reutter1:52 pmJan 17, 20190

Pugh gathers up nearly $1 million in campaign cash

A look at the developers, contractors and others who turn up in the latest records on file with the state

Above: The 2020 campaign may seem a long way away but not to candidates, who are fundraising with gusto.

Since taking office two years ago, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has raised $850,000 in campaign cash.

She now boasts a $969,000 war chest with 16 months remaining before the 2020 primary election for mayor.

While not formally announcing her re-election bid, the mayor has hired Democratic Party fundraisers and strategists TruBlu and Mayson-Dixon to run her campaign office on Park Avenue.

In yesterday’s report to the Maryland Elections Board, covering calendar year 2018, Pugh disclosed a preponderance of contributions from real estate developers and companies doing business with the city – or apparently hoping to.

Associates of Caves Valley Partners, for example, forked out at least $18,000 to the mayor, including $4,000 from CVP principals Arsh Mirmiran and Steven J. Sibel, the latter who chairs the mayor’s finance committee.

The Towson-based development company has many interests in the city, including the Stadium Square apartment complex in Sharp-Leadenhall, a proposed Topgolf entertainment  center near the Horseshoe Casino, and now-vacant Social Security Administration buildings on West Franklin Street.

James P. Grant, proprietor of Grant Capital Management, also contributed $18,000 to the mayor.

State law caps individual and corporate donations to $6,000, but there is no limit on funneling contributions via the names of family members, business associates or LLCs.

Grant divided his mayoral donation three ways – through himself, through his wife and through a son living in New York City.

Each gave at the individual maximum of $6,000. Grant’s Columbia-based company holds lucrative leasing contracts with city departments. It is now negotiating a new contract that recently won preliminary approval by the Board of Estimates.

Cathy and Danny Bell, also of Columbia, used a similar approach by funneling $6,000 in each of their names – and a third $6,000 payment in the name of “Brdancat Enterprise,” a company owned by the Bells that manages McDonald’s restaurants.

Other contributors whose companies have been awarded multi-million-dollar contracts by the Board of Estimates – whose votes are controlled the mayor – include George P. Mahoney and R.E. Harrington.

Mahoney, owner of sewer-line-installer Monumental Paving & Excavating, gave the mayor $2,000, while Harrington, whose eponymous company installs “urgent-work” water meters for the Department of Public Works, supplied $9,000 through his company and an employee.

The mayor was handed $12,000 by the California couple Kathryn and Kevin Burns. She is a music-venue entrepreneur associated with the Sundance Festival in Utah and he is the CEO of JUUL Labs, an e-cigarette company whose high nicotine content has triggered investigations by the Food and Drug Administration.

Closer to home, an equal sum came from Jeffrey L. Hargrave, a minority contractor who gave the mayor $6,000 in his name and $6,000 in the name of his firm, Mahogany Inc.

Here are others who made significant donations to Pugh’s campaign committee:

• The law firm of trial lawyer William H. “Billy” Murphy ($4,000) and associates of Baltimore Orioles owner and attorney Peter Angelos ($5,000).

• Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE ($2,000).

• Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University ($3,000), and Redonda Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Hospital ($2,000). Hopkins is seeking city help in gaining General Assembly approval of a private full-power police force to patrol its Homewood and East Baltimore campuses.

• Mark Dambly, principal of affordable housing builder Pennrose ($6,000).

• Downtown developer Howard S. Brown and his company ($6,000).

• Medical marijuana grower Michael G. Bronfein ($2,000).

• Jonathan Ehrenfeld, who won the mayor’s approval of the controversial “Overlook at Roland Park” apartment complex in Poplar Hill ($2,000).

• Mark Sapperstein’s McHenry Row real estate company near Locust Point ($4,000).

• Remington development company Seawall ($5,000).

• MCB, a real estate company with interests in Greektown and Reservoir Hill ($5,000).

• Wheelabrator, operator of the city-owned incinerator plant in South Baltimore ($1,000).

• Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, a Towson law firm headed by the son of Pugh’s Chief of Strategic Alliances Jim Smith ($1,000).

• Andre M. Davis, who Pugh appointed as city solicitor in 2017 ($500).

• Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County ($1,000).

• Jonathan Schochor and his law firm ($12,000).

• Harbor East restauranteur Alex Smith ($3,000).

• Graylin E. Smith, founding partner of SB & Co., a Hunt Valley accounting firm that conducts many city audits ($2,500).

• Companies associated with Howard Perlow, founder of the “Maryland Party” for real estate interests and Maryland politicians in Las Vegas ($8,000).

• City Hall lobbyist Frank D. Boston ($1,000).

in addition, former City Councilman Bill Cole transferred $6,000 from his campaign committee to the mayor’s campaign committee.

Cole is currently head of the Baltimore Development Corporation, the city’s development arm.

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