Tuesday, April 07, 2009

District 4 Campaign Finance Reports (Updated)

Most of the District 4 campaign finance reports due on March 24 are finally online. Here’s what they say.

Ben Kramer

Beginning Balance: $316.44
Contributions: $2,200
Loans: $23,000
Expenditures: $21,353.78
End Balance: $4,162.66

Kramer led all candidates in receipts, primarily by loaning himself $23,000 (93% of his take). That follows past practice; he loaned himself $130,450 during his 2006 Delegate race.

Kramer had 10 individual contributors, led by former U.S. Senate candidate Josh Rales ($1,000). While Kramer promised Alison Klumpp that he would not accept money from “developers” (even though Klumpp calls him one), three of Kramer’s contributors have links to the real estate industry. Lydia Funger McClain of Potomac ($250) is the daughter of Morton Funger, a principal of development firm Ralmor Corporation. McClain is also a former part-owner of Home Properties Inc., which is seeking to redevelop part of the Falkland Chase Apartments in Silver Spring. Steven Jacobson of Rockville ($250), a principal of law firm West & Feinberg, heads the firm’s commercial leasing practice. And Rales heads up RFI Associates, which his bio describes as "one of the leading investment companies in the area, specializing in acquiring, renovating, and overseeing real estate projects." That means that contrary to Kramer’s pledge to Mrs. Klumpp, his leading outside donor is a developer. Rales is also a former Republican who contributed money to George W. Bush.

Most of Kramer’s other donors are lawyers and businessmen, such as Paul Hastings attorney Behnam Dayanim ($200), Loomis Sayles Vice-President Aileen Rappaport ($100), Sandglass Systems co-founder David Fraser-Hidalgo ($100) and former M. Stein & Company owner Jerold Samet ($100).

Kramer has two paid staffers: campaign manager Eric Hensal ($6,000) and Tom Smith ($4,000). He has paid for banners, palm cards and lapel stickers, received a voter list from MCDCC and has sent out at least one mailing. Large Kramer billboards are appearing on properties owned by his family around the district.

Cary Lamari

Beginning Balance: $0
Contributions: $3,592.24
Loans: $10,000
Expenditures: $1,726.87
End Balance: $11,865.37

Lamari led all candidates in individual contributions. His contributor list reads like a who’s-who roster of the civic movement, including prominent activists Margaret Dennis ($250), James Fary ($100), Rocky Lopes ($100), Dan Wilhelm ($100) and Stuart Rochester ($50). Other contributors include former County Council Member Blair Ewing ($100) and MCDCC Secretary Elliot Chabot ($100).

Lamari has ordered 400 signs and posted one advertisement in Leisure World News but had sent no mailings at the time of the finance report. He has no paid staff.

Nancy Navarro

Beginning Balance: $43,220.69
Contributions: $2,090
Loans: $0
Expenditures: $33,444.44
End Balance: $12,151.14

Navarro started off with a big balance left over from last year’s special election. Her biggest contributors last time were unions and businesses, including developers. This time, the majority of her contributions so far have come from fellow School Board Member Shirley Brandman ($500), MCPS staffer Nivea Berrios ($300), Identity Inc. Executive Director Candace Kattar ($250), Impact Silver Spring Executive Director Frankie Blackburn ($150) and MCDCC Member Oscar Ramirez ($100). We cannot find evidence of any business or developer contributions in this report. SEIU Local 500 reported a $2,500 in-kind contribution for the services of its Political Director, Jackie Lichter, who is Navarro’s Deputy Campaign Director. No other unions have contributed so far. (My own union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, gave a maximum contribution to Navarro a year ago and cannot give her any more money. I have not contributed to Navarro or any other District 4 candidate.)

Navarro has spent far more money than the other candidates early on. She paid $9,775 to Campaign Director David Moon, $1,672.67 to field worker Ken Silverman and $10,825.95 to consulting firm TruBlu Politics. Navarro replenished her coffers with a fundraiser shortly after the March 24 reporting deadline.

Democrat Michael Bigler contributed $500 to his campaign. Republican Andrew Padula contributed $300 to his campaign. Green Party candidate George Gluck loaned his campaign $647.43. Democrat Thomas Hardman has received no contributions or loans and has a $25 balance. As of this writing, the State Board of Elections has not posted any filings for Democrats Rob Goldman and Chris Paladino or Republicans Robin Ficker and Lou August.

The strangest contribution was received by the Lamari campaign. Roger Asbury of 11501 Dewey Road in Silver Spring was Lamari’s biggest contributor, giving him $1,000 on 2/18/09.

A simple Google search on Asbury reveals that he is a registered child sex offender.

When we raised this issue with Lamari, he sent us the following statement:

As a result of your inquiry, I have spoken to Mr. Asbury and explained that I will be returning his contribution. I had accepted the contribution because he appreciated my help on a zoning matter dealing with his produce business. I politely explained I was returning his contribution so as to not have any connection with the perception that I endorse the crimes he has been convicted of. I adamantly oppose the abuse of children and believe crimes against women and children are among the most horrible crimes commited. He has explained to me that his crime was 13 years ago, that he was incarcerated for two years in jail and has had psychiatric treatment since his release. I wished him well and requested my campaign treasuer to refund his contribution.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to provide a factual and detailed explanation of events.

Cary Lamari
Update: Rob Goldman sent me the following affidavits stating that he has has not received contributions or made expenditures exceeding $1,000 in either of the pre-primary reporting periods. I cannot explain why the State Board of Elections does not post this information to its website.