Incumbents Fill War Chests, Collect Bundled Contributions

Incumbents Fill War Chests, Collect Bundled Contributions
By Martin Austermuhle in News on December 13, 2011 10:00 AM, DCist.com

The incumbents again raised the most money leading into the 2012 election year, with Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large) leading the charge with $105,000 raised and Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) collecting $71,500 more in his uncontested race to remain on the council beyond the two decades he’s served so far.

But in again proving that being on the council is a good way to stay on the council, incumbents also took in bundled contributions that, while legal, have become point of contention in the simmering ethics reform battle in the D.C. Council.

According to a review of campaign filings, Orange took in close to $30,000 from a number of LLCs and businesses listed at the same address. In one case, nine LLCs with the same address in Springfield, Virginia each gave $1,000 to Orange’s campaign. (Some of those same LLCs, which are linked to gas station mogul Joe Mamo, have donated to Evans and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser.) In July, WAMU reported that 12 LLCs located at the same Potomac address gave Evans a combined $12,000 in donations.

Other incumbents similarly led the charge in their respective races. Bowser raised over $50,000 and had $174,000 left on hand for her crowded Ward 4 contest, while Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) pulled in $33,320 and (she has just over $34,000 in the bank) and Councilmember Michael Brown collected $36,000. Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who only recently filed for re-election, didn’t submit a report as of this morning.

Some other highlights:

  • Unseating Orange will be hard work. Former Councilmember Sekou Biddle raised $25,905 towards the attempt, while fellow challenger Peter Shapiro collected just under $50,000 — though $25,000 of that was a personal loan. For Biddle, there’s an interesting contrast to be had — in January, when he was running for the seat Orange eventually won in the April 26 Special Election, he enjoyed the support of much of the city’s political establishment and took in over $50,000 as a benefit.
  • Brown is ahead in the race for the other At-Large seat. Challenger David Grosso raised $6,800 and has $25,000 on hand, while Republican Mary Brooks Beatty only collected $2,500. Since Brown’s seat is set aside for a non-majority political party, they’ve got until November to campaign, though.
  • In Ward 4, the available reports show that progressive upstart Max Skolnik has risen to the top of Bowser’s challengers. This time around, he raised $7,800 and has over $20,000 left in the bank. By comparison, Calvin Gurley only took in $788 (and he spent every cent of it), while Judi Jones added $817 and had $969 left to spend. The remaining challengers hadn’t filed reports as of this morning.
  • In Ward 7, Tom Brown and Kevin Chavous, Jr. did well ($12,997 and $8,002, respectively), while Republican Ron Moten only collected $781.
  • Over in Ward 8, ANC Commissioner Darrell Gaston raised $22,840, leading Sandra "S.S." Seegers ($859), Jauhar Abraham ($100) and Jacque Patterson ($0). In a something of an accounting error, Seegers’ report indicated that she had over $917,000 in the bank for her run against Barry, but she assured us that it was a mistake and would be corrected.
  • In the race for Shadow Senator, Ward 2 resident Pete Ross donated his campaign $102,000. More on this later.

Of course, there’s the need for the usual disclaimer — money doesn’t win elections, and underfunded challengers have won in the District in the past. That being said, a full bank account certainly makes the process easier. The next big date for candidates is in early January, when they’re expected to turn in nominating petitions to get themselves on the ballot.

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

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