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Campaign 2020

Politicsby Mark Reutter and Fern Shen11:34 amMay 13, 20200

Money in the Baltimore mayor’s race: Reminding the candidates where theirs came from

Asked who their top backers are, the mayoral hopefuls demurred or kept it vague. We’re here with the info.

This question was posed to six major candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary at a virtual debate earlier this week:

“Can each candidate share their top five donors and why they think they’re getting so much support from them?”

Here are each candidate’s replies to that question, followed by financial information compiled by The Brew from the campaign reports that the candidates have filed with the Maryland Board of Elections.

The debate was sponsored by the Baltimore branch of the NAACP and the AFRO newspaper.

The data covers the period of January 2019 through April 21, 2020, the latest reporting date. The candidates are listed in the order of magnitude of money raised:

Mary J. Miller

“I wouldn’t be able to list the top five donors. I know that we have a number of donors that have given the max of $6,000, but I couldn’t begin to reel off the names, though, and I have not actually studied the dollar amounts that closely and attached them to the names. So I can’t give you the top five donors, but I know we have a number that have given at the $6,000 level.”

“I have not actually studied the dollar amounts that closely.” (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

Background – Worked for 26 years at T. Rowe Price, becoming first woman to lead a major investment division; appointed to high-level Obama administration positions in the U.S. Treasury Department (2010-14); currently a consultant, board director and philanthropist. Lives in Guilford.

Amount raised so far – $2,301,022.

Amount self-contributed by the candidate – $1,566,493 (68% of total).

Number of maximum-limit $6,000 donors – 48.

Top Donors Include – Edward Bernard, retired vice chairman of T. Rowe Price; Mark Fetting, retired CEO of Legg Mason; Adena Friedman, CEO of Nasdaq Stock Market; Rick Berndt, senior partner of Gallagher, Evelius & Jones; Eugene Ludwig, former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency;  Timothy Bowler, administrator of the ICE Benchmark Administration (a London-based network of exchanges in which Miller sits on the board); Katherine Bradley of D.C.-based CityBridge Education; John Luetkemeyer of Continental Realty; Antonio Weiss, former counselor to the secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Thiru Vignarajah

“Number one, we have gotten more $6,000 donors than any other campaign. We’ve also gotten more $100 donors than any other campaign. Sheila Dixon has 750 donations. We have over 1,500 donations, over 1,000 of them are a $100 or less.

“But I’ll tell you the donations that I’m most proud of. I’m proud of donations from all across Baltimore City. I’m proud of donations from Thurgood Marshall’s son, Goody. I’m proud of donations from David Kennedy, from Wilhelm Joseph, from Steve Sachs, the former Attorney General of Maryland. I’m proud of donations from people who have devoted themselves to public service, that have worked in our schools, that care about Baltimore City and don’t expect one thing. And I’m just as proud of the fact that we have not taken a dollar from a lobbyist or a contractor.

“Brandon mentioned the Arnolds. It’s absolutely true that they have given us money. They’re also giving money to Baltimore City. They’re worth $4.5 billion. They don’t need a contract from Baltimore City. They’re helping cities all across the world. And I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve gotten donations from people that care deeply about Baltimore at every level. That’s how you build a campaign, that’s how you build a coalition. And it’s the kind of coalition we’re going to govern all of Baltimore. Not just the White L, but all of Baltimore.”

Baltimore mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah. (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

“We’ve gotten donations from people that care deeply about Baltimore at every level.” (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

Background – Assistant U.S. Attorney for Maryland; chief of major investigations unit at the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office; Deputy Attorney General for Maryland; currently a litigation partner at DLA Piper. Lives in South Baltimore.

Amount raised – $1,249,018.

Amount self-contributed by the candidate – $6,000.

Number of maximum-limit $6,000 donors – 114.

Top Donors Include – Tony Brandon, retired president of WYPR; Francis B. Burch Jr., chairman emeritus of DLA Piper; various partners at DLA Piper; Michael Fader of Mile One Holdings; Benjamin Griswold of Blue Water Advisory; J. Duncan Smith of Sinclair Broadcasting; Hsu Family Foundation of Las Vegas; telecommunications investor George Rich; Ross McNutt of Persistent Surveillance Systems; Kane Co. of Portsmouth, N.H.; Sherri O’Donnell of the Maryland Public Defender’s Office.

Donations cited in candidate’s answer – Steve Sachs ($200); Thurgood Marshall Jr. ($250); David Kennedy, developer of Operation Ceasefire ($500); Wilhelm Joseph, director of Maryland Legal Aid ($100); John Arnold, family and friends (about $25,000) PLUS $100,000 from Arnold to the “Safer, Stronger Baltimore PAC” that supports Vignarajah.

Jack Young

“Well, I’ve been dealing with Covid. I don’t know who my top donors are because I’ve been trying to make sure that people are safe in this city, that we’re practicing social distancing and that we’re feeding people. I wouldn’t begin to tell you who my top donors are and it really doesn’t matter really to me.”

Mayor Bernard C.

“I don’t know who my top donors are.” (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

Background – Named to fill a vacancy at the Baltimore City Council in 1996; named City Council President in 2010 after Sheila Dixon resigned and was replaced by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; named mayor in May 2019 when Catherine Pugh resigned. Lives in East Baltimore.

Amount raised – $761,321.

Amount self-contributed by the candidate – None ($100 wasa contributed by his wife in February 2020).

Number of maximum-limit $6,000 donors – 19.

Top Donors Include – Alex and Eric Smith, co-owners of Atlas Restaurant Group; Charles, John Jr., and William Paterakis of H&S Bakery; attorney-lobbyist Lisa Harris Jones; Madison Park developer MCB Real Estate; title company executive Howard Perlow; Caves Valley Partners; developer Scott Plank; city contractor Paniaqua Enterprises; The Horse You Came on Saloon; Hanan “Bean” Sibel and Sibel Leasing; John Luetkemeyer of Continental Realty.

Brandon M. Scott

“Organizations that work for working-class people, that fought for the $15 minimum wage, that are fighting for workers rights, are my top donors. We are blessed to have their support and we are blessed to have the support of small donors. And my supporters are across Baltimore City, and they look like the City of Baltimore. We’re very proud of that fact. And I’m also glad that all of my opponents have now jumped on something we know we all need, something that I’ve been pushing on for years – to have BPD be a locally controlled agency.”

City Council President Brandon Scott participates in an online debate for mayoral candidates. (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

“My supporters are across Baltimore City, and they look like the City of Baltimore.” (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

Background – Elected to City Council in 2011; ran failed bid in 2018 with running mate Jim Shea to become Democratic Party nominee for lieutenant governor; replaced Jack Young as Council president in May 2019 when Young succeeded Catherine Pugh. Lives in northeast Baltimore.

Amount raised – $650,659.

Amount self-contributed by the candidate – $2,000.

Number of maximum-limit $6,000 donors – 20.

Top Donors Include – Frankford Auto Recyclers; actress Julie Bowen Luetkemeyer; real estate and casino investor Theo Rodgers; demolition company Berg Corp; William “Billy” Murphy Jr. and his law firm; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Jim Shea, former chairman of Venable LLP; Ralph Tyler, former Baltimore city solicitor; Mark Caplan of The Time Group; John Davison of Mt. Royal Management; John Luetkemeyer of Continental Realty.

Sheila Dixon

“Out of my 750 donors, 90% of those donors or 80% of those donors – ’cause I don’t analyze lists – are grassroots individuals who are from Baltimore or from the surrounding areas of Baltimore. But out of that 750, most of them are grassroots donors. And people can go on the board of election website and look at all of our donors. They’re listed there. I just don’t study that. You know, I just try to raise money to meet the goals that I’m trying to meet. But the majority of my donors are grassroots donors.”

Former mayor Sheila Dixon. (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

“I just try to raise money to meet the goals that I’m trying to meet.” (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

Background – Elected to City Council in 1987; became president of Council in 1989; succeeded Martin O’Malley as mayor in 2007 when he became Maryland governor; convicted by a jury in 2009 of embezzlement for stealing gift cards; resigned in 2010 as part of a plea deal following that conviction and a guilty plea entered in a perjury case; failed comeback bid in 2016 mayoral race; currently works as marketing director of Maryland Minority Contractors Association. Lives in West Baltimore.

Amount raised – $435,056.

Amount self-contributed by the candidate – $2,534.

Number of maximum-limit $6,000 donors – 20.

Top Donors Include – Demolition contractor Pless B. Jones; Charles, John Jr., and William Paterakis of H&S Bakery; attorney-lobbyists Lisa Harris Jones and Sean Malone; sewer contractor R.E. Harrington; Rick Berndt of Gallagher, Evelius & Jones; Cecilia Luis-Akba and Natalie Luis of M. Luis Construction; Frankford Auto Recyclers; Sparks Quality Fencing; George P. Mahoney of Monumental Paving; Priority Construction; Baltimore Police officer and restaurateur Julian Min.

T.J. Smith

“Yeah, it’s relatively easy for me. It’s the people of Baltimore. I haven’t gotten any big, big donations, just very, very few – the fewest of any candidate here. I’m not an asset of big government or big money. I’m an asset of the people, so that’s where my money’s come from.”

Former Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith. (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

“I’m not an asset of big government or big money. I’m an asset of the people.” (Baltimore NAACP Facebook)

Background – Officer and spokesman for Anne Arundel County Police (2000-15); spokesman for Baltimore City Police (2015-18); press secretary for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (January-October 2019). Lives in Mount Washington.

Amount raised – $143,884.

Amount self-contributed by the candidate – None.

Number of maximum-limit $6,000 donors – 9.

Top Donors Include – Gary Magnum of Bell Nursery; Robb Merritt and Scott E. Dorsey of Merritt Companies; Alan Gebhart and Briarcliff Apartments of Cockeysville; Denise and Brian Hein of Whitehall, Pa., Supporters of Jerry Walker, campaign committee for the two-term Republican councilman in Anne Arundel County; Dustin Freas of Care Ventures of Cumberland, Md.

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