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How Rushern Baker's slate could have raised more than $200,000 in a week

Jonathan Mummolo

The jury is still out on how Rushern L. Baker III was able to raise more than $200,000 in about a week's time this month before reporting his campaign finance numbers, but a quick review of contribution laws in Maryland offers some possibilities.

Baker -- whose campaign announced last week that it had raised more than $550,000 and had more than $300,000 cash on hand -- got $206,000 from a candidate slate called "County 1 Now." The slate includes himself, Del. Barbara A. Frush (D-Prince George's) and Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George's), and was formed Jan. 5.

Because of how recently the slate was created, donors to the slate don't have to be made public until the next campaign finance filing in August, according to a state election official.

There are only a handful of ways Baker's slate could have raised the cash:

1. He could have assembled a large amount of individual contributors. In Maryland, individual donations are capped at $4,000, so it would have taken more than 50 donors who gave the maximum amount to hit $206,000, or an even greater number of smaller donors.

2. Other candidates could have given him money. Maryland candidates may transfer money from their campaign committees to other candidates or slates, but the transfers are capped at $6,000. Again, it would have taken a lot of candidates to top $200,000.

3. It all could have come from one person. Because of something one watchdog group has dubbed the "LLC/LLP loophole," a wealthy individual could, in theory, have supplied all the cash. In Maryland, business entities called LLCs (limited liability corporations) or LLPs (limited liability partnerships) can each give the $4,000 maximum to a campaign or slate, even if all the businesses are owned by the same person.

(Check out this 2006 report by Common Cause Maryland called "The Six Million Dollar Loophole" for more on the issue.)

4. It could have been a combination of all of the above.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) has for years introduced legislation that would treat LLCs and LLPs like any public corporation, meaning businesses owned by the same person or group could only give a collective $4,000 to a single campaign. The bills have not gotten any traction, Frosh says, "because LLCs have been such a great source of funds for campaigns."

Frosh has introduced the same bill again this session.

"50,000 bucks, 40,000 bucks routinely go from the person who controls 10 or 15 LLCs," Frosh said Tuesday. "It's a way of funneling almost unlimited amounts of money to a single campaign."

There's still no word on the source of County 1 Now's funds, but in response to a Washington Post request, Baker campaign spokesman James Adams said Monday that he is working on releasing them.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  January 26, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Comments

Great story but I liked it better when I read it the first time you wrote it.

Posted by: Mom2-3 | January 26, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

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