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Donors who supplied Baker campaign with $206,000 unknown, so far

Jonathan Mummolo

After former Del. Rushern L. Baker's III's campaign for Prince George's County Executive announced a strong financial statement last week with more than $300,000 cash on hand, campaign finance records show that about two-thirds of that sum came from donors who are not yet public.

According to state records, $206,000 of Baker's money came from a slate called "County 1 Now" that was established on Jan. 5. The three-member slate -- which includes Del. Barbara A. Frush (D-Prince George's), Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George's) and Baker himself -- transferred the money in three payments into Baker's campaign coffers on Jan. 13, about a week after forming.

Because of how recently the slate was formed, its donors are not required to be disclosed to the state until August, the next campaign finance reporting deadline, a state election official said.

In response to a request by the Washington Post, Baker campaign spokesman James Adams said he is working on releasing the slate's donor list but that he could not immediately get the information Monday because both Baker and the campaign treasurer are on vacation.

"There's no secret," Adams said of the slate's funding sources. "There are going to be no secrets about anything in our campaign."

Del. Gerron S. Levi (D-Prince George's), who also is running for Prince George's executive, said she is concerned about not knowing where the money came from and how it was raised so quickly.

"I think the purpose of campaign finance reporting is to be transparent about who is donating to campaigns, and who has an interest in influencing the outcome of campaigns, and here we have a large lump sum transfer and we don't know where it came from -- how the money was raised -- in a very short period of time," Levi said. "I think we all have to try to be as open as possible about it -- all of us, as candidates."

Frush said Monday she did not know where the slate's money came from. Gaines did not return a call for comment.

Baker, who has run twice before for county executive, came into his latest campaign with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. His latest finance report showed an outstanding loan balance of $172,900, which Adams says is from a previous loan Baker made to his own campaign.

After Baker's last bid for county executive, it was revealed that much of the impressive $1.2 million he had raised came from loans, including money Baker made to himself. More than $300,000 came from a single entity, Southern Management Corp., a Fairfax County-based company that operates thousands of apartment units in Prince George's County.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  January 26, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Baker may have found a pot of gold, but did he follow a rainbow or a string to the "County 1 Now" slate.

Posted by: mdfldr | January 26, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Mystery? What mystery? This man has run twice before, offers no more now than he did 8 years ago, and is playing the kinds of games that have marred confidence in government - and Prince George's County in particular - for many years.

It really is time for honest candidates with clean backgrounds and clear vision. We've had enough of this "caught in bed with developers type of politician."

Posted by: CyrusBorg | January 26, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

If Rushern Baker can't run a fair campaign, then how can he be trusted to run Prince Georges County? The citizens are sick and tired of crooked politicians who try to skirt the law! Let's demand that our leaders be open, honest and ethical! Mr. Baker, if you have nothing to hide, then you should be willing to voluntarily disclose the source of your donations whether you are required to at this time or not. The appearance of impropriety is just as bad as blatant transgressions! Prince Georges County does not need any scandal-ridden politicians to blemish our reputation in the state and around the nation! Let's have a fair campaign that is within the bounds of the law and ethics!

Posted by: kjackson1 | January 27, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Baker comes out of the starting gate on his 3rd run for County Exec with a war chest cloaked once again in smoke and mirrors--a mysterious, unidentified, unexplained last- minute contribution of $206,000, and he wants us to vote him into the highest office in the County? C'mon Mr. Baker -- we're smarter than that! Why should we believe you can govern honestly and transparently if you can't even launch your campaign honestly? And by the way, why ARE you running again? What ARE you offering the citizens of Prince Georges County? We still don't know. But no matter, you have already lost my vote. I'm looking to elect a County Exec who I can trust to come into office with solutions to openly address the County's budget issues on Day 1, not a pattern of ducking and dodging and fuzzy math to explain how he suddenly fattened his own campaign war chest.

Posted by: lanlady301 | January 27, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

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