Who Raised More Money--Cohen or McFall? From Where? From Who? What's the Point? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who Raised More Money--Cohen or McFall? From Where? From Who? What's the Point?

This is not an attempt to sort out every detail of the finance reports, but first, let us also remember that campaigning and winning and governing are not just about money and never should be. Somehow, our system, our way of doing things is a mess requiring lots of money. Candidates need money to get their message out to the voters, the basis of the democratic process. Voters need to be actively engaged (as in blogging and reading blogs...) but because of lack of large-scale active involvement of the citizenry, candidates are forced to do mailers, and more mailers, make phone-calls, put up signs and buy ads and it costs money. That challenge is compounded by how hard it is to raise money within the city, voter by voter, dollar by dollar, so naturally and not improperly, they turn to old friends, associates and family--many of whom are not within the electorate, and may live far away. That's legal but may not be fair, but what is?  I don't know how to reform this but to do it right is beyond me....

The big question as always is really, who is the candidate? Well, how do we know if they don't get their message out and how will they get it out without....money?  DON'T BLAME THE CANDIDATES--it's our fault and that of the system--especially in the day and age of all kinds of instant, home-based and portable systems to view information in a variety of forms and media. There were enough darn public forums yet a week before the election, there are many undecided voters.ON THE OTHER HAND...when does money -either because of not enough, too much, or too much from the wrong source, begin to cause a problem? 

Fund raising bottom lines in a campaign tells us a lot, and cash on hand tells us what can be done. Here we have two Democratic candidates who told us a couple of weeks ago that each pulled in more than the other. How can this be? Read the excerpts from the below news releases first from McFall and second from Cohen:


Also has most available cash on hand
Annapolis, MD (August 20, 2009) – Recently released campaign finance reports show that Trudy McFall, Democratic candidate for Mayor, continues to be the top fundraiser and to have more available cash on hand than any of the other nine Mayoral candidates. Trudy McFall also was the highest fundraiser for the previous report period ending July 1, 2008. Total contributions to her campaign to-date now exceed $92,000. During the most recent reporting period ending August 18, Trudy McFall had the highest cash available of over $83,000. She also has the highest cash on hand of over $21,000.

Josh Leads in Fundraising 

Raises More Than $60,000 in Just Six Months

Josh filed his first fundraising report for the 2009 mayoral election yesterday, announcing an impressive total of more than $60,000 in contributions, with over $9,000 cash on hand. Josh's total raised is almost double that of his nearest competitor. The reporting period covers the past 14 months from July 1, 2008 through August 18, 2009. Josh's fundraising is even more notable considering he only began collecting contributions in February of this year.
The 267 contributions to Cohen for Mayor came from 244 unique donors, and ranged from $10 to $2,500, with a median donation of $100. 62% of all contributions came from the 21401 and 21403 zip codes, underscoring his popularity in the Annapolis area from having served in public office as both Alderman and County Councilman representing Annapolis.

And of course they each tried to spin it to suit their own needs. We know that. That's what candidates do. It's up to we the people to make sense of it all.  

To view all campaign finance reports visit the City of Annapolis website...but what do all the numbers and lists mean?

Who has the time to sort it all out? Way back last year, when McFall was busy raising money, she clearly came out as the fund-raising leader and it raised my eyebrows--but not in a positive light. See my posts:

Jan 09, 2009
I wanted to forget about this campaign until the summer but with McFall's fundraising and now this kickoff party--it's happening now. More and more, talk of the town is she is the one to beat. It's too early for that...waaay too early. ...
Jul 13, 2008
Mcfall's campaign manager dennis conti, has met with me to talk about mcfall's fundraising, her campaign and issues and I've always been impressed by conti's willingness to engage in frank and candid discussion. on the other hand, ...

Back to the present. Cohen says he leads, while McFall says she is the top fund-raiser, yet Cohen collected just over $61,000 while McFall has brought in a total of $92,000. Cohen has over $9,000 cash on hand while McFall has over $21,000 and that is what can determine the final few weeks of the primary and preparations for the general. Cohen's release states, "Josh's total raised is almost double that of his nearest competitor." How can this be? What it does not state is that Cohen was referring to the most recent reporting period, while McFall was reporting overall. But again--why do THEY make it about the money?

Zina Pierre brought in about $28,000.

Most voters want to know who contributed, how much they contributed, and whether it was a large contribution, a small contribution, how many parties gave, if they were businesses or private citizens and if they were in Annapolis or elsewhere. Rather than present an exhaustive study, I urge each reader to see for himself or herself. The Capital did extensively report on this but I think it missed some important distinctions. However, please see its story at: Developers, nonresidents bankroll city mayoral races • Top Stories ...

To begin with Cohen, we see that:
ELG ATC LLC from Owings Mills, Md gave $2,500.
ELG Burwood LLC gave $2,500
Greenberg, Gibbons Commercial gave $1,000. They are all based in Owings Mills at the same address, and hey, these are the folks who developed and own Parole Towne Center. That's a huge chunk of change from a big developer rights next door--and in the county Cohen still represents, but Cohen tells us he can sit across the table "from the big boys" and represent us.
How about Riva Business Park LLC in Baltimore? They gave $2,500.
Koch Property Management gave $2500 and they are on Riva Rd, NOT in Annapolis.
Marc Bowen in Edgewater gave $1000. I think he owned Bowens service station and maybe Bowens Farm Supply? Maybe?
PEPCO Utilities in Severna Park for $2500.00
Constellation Energy State PAC gave $1,000. (ooh what will the Sierra Club say? PEPCO and BGE?)
UA Political Action Fund at Park Place gave $2,500. (whoa...big union based in town)
Anne Arundel FIRE PAC gave $500 (county union contracts!)
Daniel Lederberg of Potomac gave $1000 and Edward Lederberg of Longboat Key, FL gave $1000 (they own the Eastport Shopping Center).
John Katzman of New York gave $2,000. (huh?)
Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell and Hippel, LLP of Philadelphia gave $1,000 (whuh?)

These 14 interests alone contributed an aggregate of $23,500 or about one-third of his total intake for an average of over $1500 each. Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell and Hippel, LLP of Philadelphia??? John Katzman of New York Who are all these folks? What are their interests? What are they expecting? What is the candidate planning to do to thank them? Cohen told me that they are friends of a friend of his and it is not unusual for such things to occur in political campaigns. Unusual or not, something does not sit right--I mean Cohen admitted he does not even know them, but each party knows a middle-man friend.

John Katzman is chairman of the Princeton Review and a big donor to Democratic candidates, but why give to Josh Cohen? Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell and Hippel is a big Phila. law firm, so who are they representing or what is their interest here? The UA Political Action Committee is an arm of the United Association of Journey and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry. Okay, now of course they have some members in Annapolis, but this big union is based at Park Place. They also endorsed Cohen, which he heartily accepted, but what does this union have to do with our town? There has been discussion that it is planning to build their own headquarters here.

Drum Loyka Associates, an engineering firm doing city contracts including the work on the Rec and Parks building going up right now, but they are local. They gave $750. They did work on Park Place and Annapolis Subaru.

Cohen claims that "The 267 contributions to Cohen for Mayor came from 244 unique donors, and ranged from $10 to $2,500, with a median donation of $100. 62% of all contributions came from the 21401 and 21403 zip codes, underscoring his popularity in the Annapolis area from having served in public office as both Alderman and County Councilman representing Annapolis" is....well, not all he claims it to be. Most of his money is from deep-pocket businesses or their owners, many from out of town and even out of state addresses. If you really look at the local addresses, you may find a lot of 21401 and 21403 but MANY ARE NOT in Annapolis, and he is and will still be a county councilman if he is defeated Sept. 15.

Furthermore, if you look at the deep pocket outfits from out of town, the median donation rises dramatically and the entire claim to deep, local support starts to wither and the average contribution does not reflect a high number of average folks but a thin base of of folks giving modest to large contributions. Where are all the Eastport donors and addresses, for example, where he got his start in politics? Well, other than Clarence Goldberg...only a few others jump out, but this is not a detailed analysis--only you can do that. Of the 21401 and 21403 addresses, which of course are the lion's share of Annapolis zip codes, a lot were out of the city, and even those in the city were not as heavily represented as one might expect. In 21403, the actual Eastport or Eighth Ward addresses were even more sparse. Of them, the average donation was comparatively small.

McFall also brought in big money from groups outside and some within the city but I see no evidence of lawyers or developers engaging in city activities. For example, $2000 from John Carney in New Jersey, $2500 from the Reznick Group in Bethesda (major accounting firm) and even more from its principal. For disclosure I also know Mr. Reznick. McFall's campaign says he is an old friend of the candidate. $1000 from Premier Management Group in Annapolis, $1600 and then $1000 from two parties at the same address in Germantown, MD, Nancy Rase in Annapolis has given an aggregate of $2500 (Ms McFall's business partner), Unit Construction in Columbia (a total of $1650), $2000 from Stavrou Construction on Defense Hwy, Osprey Property Company LLC on Admiral Drive gave $1250, $1000 from an individual in Virginia, $1000 from Unit Services in Columbia, MD and $1000 from an individual in 21403. McFall also loaned herself $3000.

I have discussed these large contributions with her campaign manager, Dennis Conti. As with Cohen and his manager, Kathy Nieberding, Conti quickly replied to questions and provided further information when asked. All of these large contributors are longtime associates of McFall who have known her for her work in affordable housing. They are not involved with any city contracts and McFall has pledged not to accept any money from any builders or developers involved with Annapolis projects. They may be builders and in property management but so is McFall, who has been developing affordable housing for decades.

McFall and Cohen have a lot of donors in the 21401 and 21403 codes as they of course should, but McFall's numbers appear to be more than that of Cohen's, but Cohen's average donation from city dwellers appears to be lower. Does this possibly reflect thinner support? In other words more people giving less money per person is reflective of broader support rather than a few people giving a lot of money. Pierre brought in many local donors, many of them making small donations, but a number of large donors, almost all from out of town, buoyed her overall fund raising.

Again, this is not a detailed analysis. I am not a number cruncher or a bean counter, but you can see it all for yourself at the City of Annapolis', posted here for THE THIRD TIME....at website . If any reader or any candidate wishes to clarify, dispute or challenge anything I have said, your comments will be published--even as a guest editorial if you request, but you must be clearly identified.

Join us on Thursday morning, Sept 10 from 8-9 am for our Sip N' Blog at ZU Coffee, 934 Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis, Maryland, in the Giant Shopping Center. Stop by on your way to work for your morning latte and meet other local activists. Zu now has a drive-thru window!  


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