Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Baker’s Secret Slate Money Revealed (Updated)

Under intense pressure by the media, Prince George’s County Executive candidate Rushern Baker has finally revealed the contributors to his County 1 Now slate. Of its $209,000 in proceeds, $200,000 came from one man. Who is he? You guessed it, readers:

Southern Management Corporation boss David Hillman.

On 1/13/10, the slate received a $200,000 loan from Renters Finance Corporation, a Silver Spring company affiliated with Southern Management. That same day, the slate contributed $200,000 to Baker’s campaign account. January 13 was also the cutoff for the last finance report.

So the slate contribution was structured to both hide Hillman’s money and to keep the loan off Baker’s own books, thus inflating his reported contribution total. Without the loan, Baker would have reported just $110,631.51 in cash on hand – not much larger than Delegate Gerron Levi’s cash balance of $101,106.80.

Media coverage immediately after the January reports’ release noted Baker’s financial edge and helped shape the perception of his status as the front runner. But if it had been known at the time that Baker had little more money on hand than Levi, the race would have been seen very differently.

We have previously calculated that Hillman has accounted for at least $751,756 of Baker’s $3 million in contributions and loans over the last ten years. Now we know that the true amount is at least $951,756, meaning that one-third of all of Baker’s money has come from one man. This may be unprecedented in the modern history of major County Executive candidates.

News Channel 8 reporter Bruce DePuyt mercilessly grilled Baker over Hillman yesterday. According to the Post, Baker said of Hillman, “There's nothing I can do for him. He’s a billionaire. There’s really very little. It doesn’t matter whether Rushern Baker is county executive, Jack Johnson is county executive or Joe Blow is county executive, he’s gonna do well.”

Actually, there’s a lot Baker can do for Virginia billionaire and major Republican contributor Hillman. We will explore that soon.

Update: The Post has confirmed that Hillman was responsible for the $200,000 loan.