Cecil County Exec: Moore Reaps PAC, Developer Campaign $; Howard Backed by Mom, Small Donors
Republican Tari Moore has raked in campaign money from out of county interests tied to real estate development, including the Clark Turner organization that bet heavily on a different horse in the county executive race during the April primary election—Democrat Robert McKnight, the mayor of North East, who was soundly defeated in his party primary by Pam Howard.
And new campaign finance filings with the state show that McKnight got even more Turner-related campaign donations than previously disclosed in reports before the April primary election. But with the loss of McKnight to Howard in the Democratic primary, some of his donors now show up on Moore’s new finance report.
However, Moore also raised a majority of her $26,800 in total contributions so far to her campaign from fundraiser tickets and smaller donations. Moore had to wage a costly primary campaign against six other candidates before emerging the victor in the GOP primary.
Moore, who is in the second year of her first term as a County Commissioner for District 2, is facing Howard, the former three-term County Treasurer, in the November general election for Cecil County’s first-ever County Executive under charter government.
While Howard got a late start on fundraising, she has held several events and received many smaller donations that boosted her campaign coffers to be competitive with Moore. Howard has raised a total of $22,114, most of it for her general election campaign. She ran a shoe-string operation in the primary in which she defeated McKnight despite his nearly $18,000 warchest. Howard has not received any PAC donations and her largest individual check came from her mother.
The most recent pre-general election campaign finance report filed with the state Board of Elections, covering the period from 3/19/12 through 10/21/12, shows Moore raised $19,910 in that period, including contributions and fundraiser tickets amounting to $16,710; $1,200 from the Republican Club of Cecil County; and $2,000 from the Realtors Political Action Committee of Maryland. Moore also received an earlier $1,000 donation from the Realtors PAC in 2011, for a total of $3,000 from that PAC in this campaign finance cycle.
In addition, Moore’s latest finance report fails to list another PAC donation in the section reserved for PAC reporting. Instead, her report lists under regular contributions a $2,500 check, received 3/29/12, from the Cecil County Homebuilders PAC which is based in Baltimore. All told, Moore’s donations so far from real estate-related PACs total $5,500. [UPDATE: Moore told Cecil Times that the state online reporting system would not let her list the homebuilders group under the PAC category so she had no alternative but to list that donation under regular contributions.]
She also received a $2,000 donation on 3/29/12 from CT Charlestown Crossing, LLC, of Belcamp, Md., the Clark Turner entity that is building a large scale mixed-use housing development along Route 40 near North East. And a senior executive of the Harford County-based Clark Turner organization, Dan Whitehurst, of Havre de Grace– who often appears before the Cecil County Commissioners to represent Clark Turner interests– donated $500 to Moore on 3/29/12.
All told, donations from real estate-related PACS and Turner development interests total about 30 percent of all contributions to Moore’s campaign. (That does not include many smaller donations from Cecil County residents who happen to work in real estate or construction.)
[UPDATE: Moore told Cecil Times that she decided not to burden local residents with asking individuals for donations in these "really difficult economic times" and said that she was previously a local Realtor and "they know me" so she felt more comfortable seeking support from the real estate community.]
In addition, Moore received a substantial $3,000 donation on 10/10/12 from Ralph Hall of Galena, an owner of several Sassafras River-based businesses– including the Georgetown Yacht Basin and the Kitty Knight House Inn and restaurant on the Kent County side of the river, and the Granary restaurant, on the Cecil County side of the river, that has held a county liquor license. (When Hall sought Kent County approval for a large special events tent on his site, a nearby Georgetown resident–the father of fellow Cecil County Commissioner Robert Hodge, R-5– testified in its favor, according to meeting minutes.)
Moore also received donations and fundraiser ticket purchases from Hodge’s mother, Elizabeth, amounting to $600, according to individual listings on the finance reports. (However, Moore’s report listed an “aggregate” total for all her donations to the current Moore campaign of $1,000 although a search of the state elections database only showed a $600 total for the current political campaign cycle.)
Another mother opened her purse for Pam Howard, whose largest individual check came from her own mother, Virginia Howard of Perryville, who gave $1,000. Pam Howard had no donations from PACs or large construction or real estate interests.
Howard’s other large donor was Brian Shivery, a Rising Sun accountant, with a total of $1,255 that included a $500 donation, $130 in fundraiser event tickets and the balance purchases from auctions. Howard said she and Shivery worked together many years ago and remained friends, and Shivery “got into a bidding war” over an antique quilt auctioned at one of her fundraisers. (According to the state campaign finance database, Shivery’s past campaign donations have been to Republicans, including contributions to the gubernatorial effort of Robert Ehrlich and the Cecil County Republican Central Committee.)
Leading Democrats were also on Howard’s donor list, including his-and-her donations from Vivian ($1,010) and Wyatt ($141) Wallace. Wyatt Wallace heads the county’s Democrat Club and serves on the Planning Commission.
The Sutton for Sheriff campaign account, which supports the candidacy of Democrat Chris Sutton, bought fundraiser tickets totaling $324. Sutton, who lost two previous bids for county sheriff, is expected to run again in 2014 and has already held several fundraising events of his own.
Howard also received support from local Democratic groups: $1,000 from the county’s Democratic Central Committee and $100 from the Women’s Democratic Club.
Apart from the usual expenditures on printing of yard signs and flyers, billboards, newspaper ads and such, Howard detailed fundraising expenses and also listed “in kind” donations, such as food and items donated to silent auctions—including two coconut cakes valued at $10 each.
On her pre-primary campaign report, Moore listed income from a seafood buffet at Woodies but did not list any expenses of the event. When asked about it by Cecil Times, Moore said she would amend her report to show the value of food and beverages had been donated by the restaurant and would be listed as an “in-kind” donation. However, the state database does not show an amended report with the in-kind value of those services listed. [UPDATE: Moore told Cecil Times Thursday that in the midst of the campaign she "forgot" to update that report and said she would do so soon.]
In her latest campaign report, Moore listed expenses of nearly $8,200 for a direct mail flyer, paid for in late March. Her next report, post-election, will likely show additional mailing costs for the general election campaign, such as a mailer received by some Democratic women in the county.
Other Moore donors included $1,200 from John Burkley, a longtime Elkton insurance firm owner; and multiple small donations and ticket purchases from individual members of the Cecil County Patriots, the local “tea party” organization.
Meanwhile, the latest campaign filings show that McKnight, who remains the mayor of the town of North East, got even more Clark Turner-related money than previously indicated for his losing Democratic primary bid for county executive, including two newly reported 4/4/12 donations of $2,000 from CT Charlestown Crossing and $2,000 from North East Commons LLC. (North East Commons is a Turner-related large-scale housing development that has been proposed for a site formerly occupied by a religious retreat camp.)
Out of the $17,945 total McKnight raised for his campaign since last year, he obtained at least $10,000 from Turner-affiliated entities and individuals, according to the finance reports. But after McKnight’s primary election loss to Howard, he listed “expenditures,” dated 4/10/12, of $2,000 to Clark Turner individually and $1,000 to Whitehurst. If it was McKnight’s intent to return some of their earlier contributions, it should have been reported separately as a “refund of contribution” on the report.