Monday, August 02, 2010

Follow the Money Some More, Part One

Last fall, we ran a series called “Follow the Money” in which we examined the sources of campaign contributions for MoCo politicians. As ambitious as that series was, it had two shortcomings. First, it did not include the new batch of campaign finance reports that were submitted in January. And second, it did not include enough politicians. As all of our devoted readers know, there can never be enough politicians! Who else will answer (or arrange to have answered) the ranting emails we fire off at three in the morning?

So with those flaws corrected, we proceed with our update. Let’s Follow the Money Some More!

Last time, we studied 61,483 loans and contributions to 61 active and potential candidates in MoCo since 1999. That’s child’s play compared to our new dataset, which includes 87,768 loans and contributions to 107 current and former candidates. Our database includes all incumbent county officials and state legislators, plus the following other candidates:

Former County Executive Candidate: Steve Silverman
Former County Council Members: Mike Subin, Howard Denis, Nancy Dacek
Former Senators: Jean Roesser, Chris Van Hollen, Sharon Grosfeld, Len Teitelbaum, Ida Ruben, P.J. Hogan
Former Delegates: Tod Sher, Mark Shriver, Richard LaVay, Bill Bronrott, Cheryl Kagan, Leon Billings, John Hurson, Adrienne Mandel, Carol Petzold, Gareth Murray, Dana Dembrow, Joan Stern
State’s Attorney: John McCarthy, Dan Fox
School Board: Shirley Brandman, Pat O’Neill, Phil Kauffman, Laura Berthiaume, Judy Docca
Council Candidates: Pat Ryan, Steve Kanstoroom, Cary Lamari, Hans Riemer, Becky Wagner, Jane de Winter, Pat Baptiste, Hugh Bailey, Bob Dorsey, Sharon Dooley, Steve Joseph, Sally Sternbach
Senate Candidates: Steve Hollman, John Mahoney
Delegate Candidates: Pete Fosselman, Ryan Spiegel, Dan Farrington, Dana Beyer, Diane Nixon, Aaron Klein, Lucinda Lessley, Craig Zucker, Eric Luedtke, Tom DeGonia, Paul Griffin, Alec Stone, Sam Arora, Bonnie Cullison, Jay Hutchins, Hoan Dang, Will Smith, Sam Statland, Reggie Oldak
Other Candidates: Steve Abrams, Robin Ficker, Guled Kassim, Bo Newsome

We did not include statewide candidates like Doug Duncan, Doug Gansler, Tom Perez or Peter Franchot. We also did not include deceased politicians or totally non-competitive candidates. We probably missed a few names we should have included, but if you want perfection, look for it in Heaven.

We are using the same categories of contributions as before:

Individual Contributions
These are checks written by individuals, who are limited to $4,000 in total contributions to one entity and $10,000 in total contributions to all entities in one four-year election cycle. We isolated certain categories of individuals as described below.

Business Contributions
This category includes business entities, which are permitted to donate directly to state campaigns, and business PACs. We do not include business owners who contribute as individuals in this category, a MAJOR caveat in our analysis. Our case studies of racetrack owner William Rickman and corrupt developer Ronald Lipscomb illustrate how business owners sometimes contribute through their spouses, children and employees, all individual donations serving a corporate design. Linking business owners to family members and corporate entities would be a worthy and illuminating exercise, but it is beyond our time constraints to do it for every candidate in the county. That said, any measure of business influence in our analysis must be regarded as a significant understatement.

Labor Contributions
This includes labor union PACs and political clubs. We did not include individuals who are union members in this category. Indeed, that information is not public record.

Political Fund Contributions
These are PAC and political clubs that usually have an overt partisan affiliation. Examples include the Maryland Democratic Party, the Hispanic Democratic Club of Montgomery County and the Potomac Women’s Republican Club.

Candidate Fund Contributions
These are funds controlled directly by candidates, who sometimes give money to allies.

Self Contributions
This category includes loans, the device of choice for self-funding candidates. Candidates and their spouses are permitted to contribute or loan unlimited amounts to their campaign funds.

Family Contributions
We attempted to determine family membership by including contributions from people with the same surname as the candidate, living at the same home address or sharing surnames with co-habitants. This is an imperfect measure when applied to candidates with common surnames, so this measure can only be regarded as an approximation in some cases.

Lump Sum Contributions
The State Board of Elections permits candidates to report contributions under $51 from multiple individuals as aggregate “lump sums” for purposes of convenience. Campaign treasurers can save lots of time with lump sums, but the practice does conceal the identities of small contributors. Few candidates use lump sums, but we will report on the ones who do.

Other Contributions
A small number of contributors did not fit any of the above categories.

Tomorrow, we will begin our analysis of contributions in the above categories. When computing contribution shares, we will exclude those politicians who have raised less than $20,000 because their small bases will skew the percentages. They are:

Phil Kauffman: $19,589 in receipts
Richard LaVay: $17,125
Pat Ryan: $15,520
Will Smith: $12,618
Pete Fosselman: $12,211
Mark Shriver: $9,576
Judy Docca: $8,525
Bonnie Cullison: $7,590
Jay Hutchins: $6,820
Eric Luedtke: $5,700

Politicians beware, because now we will begin naming names!