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Finance Fun in MD 4

Rosalind Helderman

With about four months to go until the Feb. 12 Democratic primary, Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) reports he has almost four times more to spend on his campaign than his challenger, activist attorney Donna F. Edwards.

In campaign finance reports that cover the period ending Sept. 30 and made public on the Federal Election Commission's website this week, Wynn said he had raised $592,602 for his campaign and had $400,286 on hand to spend. Edwards, meanwhile, reported raising $214,365 but spending almost half, leaving her $100,511.

Both sides declared themselves pleased with the numbers. Edwards noted that almost half of Wynn's contributions came from political action committees rather than individuals. The two are more evenly matched in the number of individuals donating--with 121 giving $200 or more to Edwards in the last quarter and 189 donating $200 or more to Wynn. Wynn's campaign manager meanwhile notes that much of Edwards' money comes from people who don't live in the 4th district--or even in Maryland.

Wynn's $290,000 from PACs include contributions from several telecommunications companies, natural gas and propane interests, the Nuclear Energy Institute Federal PAC, Wal-Mart's PAC and other industry groups. They also include donations from unions, like the AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America and airline pilots and flight attendants. By contrast, Edwards has taken in only $2,100 from PACs (the Feminist Majority, the Friends of the Earth and Moderates Against Corruption.)

"What's fair to say is I've got the support of individuals both in and outside of the congressional district, but I don't have the support of the banking, telecommunications, oil or gas industries," Edwards said. "People over money, any day," she added.

Edwards' donors meanwhile include many who live in New York, California, Texas and elsewhere. On Tuesday night, she was feted at a fundraiser at the home of former ambassador Elizabeth Bagley and her husband Smith. Edwards said she has known the couple for two decades. Smith Bagley is president of the Arca Foundation, where Edwards serves as executive director. She has taken a leave of absence to run for office.

Other hosts of the event, where attendees were requested to make a $500, $1,000 or $2,300 donation, included leading progressives like Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters and Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

"The vast majority of our money comes from individuals in our district, in Maryland," said Wynn campaign manager Lori Sherwood. She said Edwards' money seemed to come from "individuals and organizations she's been affiliated with" as executive director of the Arca Foundation. "Our opponent has special interest. She's receiving money from Barbara Streisand, Hollywood money and New York money. I'm not sure if Barbara Streisand knows what the policies are in the 4th district."

(Streisand did, in fact, donate $1,000 to Edwards in April.)

Edwards said she's proud of those who organized this week's fundraiser, which was geared to people she has met in her professional life. She also attends two to three parties a week hosted by people in the district, she said.

The FEC has not yet posted this quarter's report for real estate agent George E. Mitchell. As for the end of June, he had raised $325.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  October 17, 2007; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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