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Campaign 2018

Politicsby Mark Reutter1:00 pmDec 7, 20170

Tonight Governor Hogan comes to town, hunting for cash

The Governor’s Gala at the Hilton Baltimore will cap a busy year of fundraising

Above: Mayor Catherine Pugh and Gov. Larry Hogan stand side by side at the funeral of Baltimore Detective Sean Suiter. (@larryhogan)

The mayor and the governor have been taking potshots at one another about their prescriptions for quelling Baltimore’s violence, as well as grumbling over the handling of the investigation of murdered detective Sean Suiter.

But on one subject they are in sync: the importance of fundraising during the Christmas season.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Catherine Pugh was in Baltimore County seeking support from 50 business grandees gathered at an invitation-only fundraiser at the Caves Valley Golf Club.

Pugh’s City Hall tenure may only be a year old, but her new political handler, Jayson Williams, an ex-aide to Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. who runs Mayson-Dixon Strategic Consulting, wants to amass $2.5 million before the 2020 city election cycle begins.

Guests paid $1,000 or $2,500 each for the privilege of mixing with the mayor over cocktails.

Before the Clock Strikes

Governor Hogan, who is seeking re-election next year, has been vigorously running down the fundraising trail since last May.

He’s attended more than 30 scheduled events, well knowing that when the clock strikes on January 10 state officials are barred from raising money during the 90-day General Assembly session.

The math for Hogan’s “table of 10” is $2,500 x 9 + $2,500 = $25,000, but any number of variations will do.

Tonight’s Governor’s Gala at the Hilton Baltimore is the summit of his fundraising marathon. Tickets start at $1,000 and range upwards to $25,000.

State law prohibits individual contributions over $6,000 in an election cycle, but the “bundling” of contributions in the names of different people or companies is perfectly legal.

Hence, a “sponsor” of tonight’s event can arrange for nine entities (they could be LLCs, friends, business associates or family members) to each buy in their name a $2,500 ticket, and then the sponsor can purchase his or her own $2,500 ticket.

The math is $2,500 x 9 + $2,500 = $25,000, but any number of variations will do, as long as they are made without a violation of the $6,000 individual limit.

The end result is that the Republican governor gets a sizable chunk of money, and the sponsor is given a table of 10 to enjoy tonight’s food and speechifying.

Comparing Campaigns

Hogan’s campaign committee had a $4.6 million fund balance last January 18, when its last disclosure report was due with the Maryland Board of Elections. That compares with $2 million in January 2016.

Nearly a dozen Democrats have declared their intention to run against Hogan, but only one, Kevin Kamenetz, has emerged from the pack as financially potent.

The Baltimore County executive, whose two terms in office are over next year, reported a $1.6 million campaign fund balance as of last January.

A distant second on the fundraising front is Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III. He reported a $196,054 fund balance last January.

Neither Kamenetz nor Baker has scheduled any fundraisers before Christmas. Mike Miller, on the other hand, will be in Fells Point on Monday evening, greeting VIP guests (at $2,500 a ticket) at a cocktail reception at the Sagamore Pendry Hotel.

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