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Another fiery response by Baker campaign on fundraising questions

Faced with continued questions about the source of its finances, the campaign of Prince George's County Executive candidate Rushern L. Baker III has employed two seemingly contradictory strategies on how to respond: Decline to comment altogether, or fire back with a lengthy written retaliation that stops short of addressing many of the specifics of the controversy.

The first example came last month, when the campaign sent out an e-mail blast decrying the "would-be" journalists who wrote about the unknown source of a $206,000 transfer from a slate into Baker's campaign account. By the end of the note, voters and would-be journalists alike were no closer to learning the source of the funds.

On Tuesday, a similar lengthy response from Baker campaign staffer David E. Byrd was published on Maryland Politics Watch, where blogger Adam Pagnucco recently posted a six-part series on Baker's finances. The series included a provocative examination of the contributions and loans of apartment building mogul David Hillman and his affiliates to Baker, which Pagnucco claims top $750,000 over the past ten years.

Byrd responded by first excoriating Pagnucco for not being a "journalist"--a charge Pagnucco admitted in his response to the response. Byrd then focused on one apparent error in the series: A claim that Baker is the only member of the County 1 Now Slate, which transferred the controversial $206,000 into his campaign account in January. In fact, a state election official has confirmed that the slate has three members, as previously reported here, and that Baker's name was the only one entered into the online campaign finance database because of a clerical error in the way the slate's paperwork was filled out.

Byrd then mounted a defense of Baker's fund-raising tactics, again without delving into the specifics that continue to be the focus of all the speculation. No mention of Hillman, or the slate's donors.

"In a 485 square mile jurisdiction with nearly 400,000 eligible voters, one can't win a countywide election on shoe leather alone," Byrd wrote. "You have to raise lots of money. To touch a portion of the voters once, you need over a million dollars. Adam, if you needed a million dollars over the next few months, how would you raise it?"

Baker campaign spokesman James Adams confirmed that the response was written by Byrd, whom he called a "high-level" member of their campaign. He said Byrd had discussed the response with the rest of the team and that he was "speaking for the campaign." (Byrd is not to be confused with the David Byrd recently nominated by County Executive Jack B. Johnson to be county planning board chairman.)

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  March 4, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Jon, you did not previously report that a clerical error was responsible for the other slate members' names being left off the State Board of Elections record. Please re-read your prior post.

Adam Pagnucco

Posted by: acp1629 | March 4, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Adam: You didn't even bother to call Baker's campaign for a comment before publishing?

Posted by: readerinterest | March 4, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Okay, so Baker raises a lot of money in a short time and the big deal is nobody knows how he did it and he won't say until he's supposed to. Am I missing something? Isn't that kind of like I make a ton of money and the IRS says "we know the filing date is April 15th, but if you don't file right now, you're a bad person." Do the other campaigns have to reveal what they raised in January or just Baker? Didn't the Post endorse him twice? So, the post only cares where you get your money, when you're about to win? Why don't you ask him what he plans to do about the schools. I could care less who gives him money, especially if I don't have to and he can do something about these schools or getting a plow to my cul-de-sac in less than a week. That matters a tad more, don't you think?

Posted by: Whatisthepointagain | March 4, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

From what I've read, Baker has no serious opposition, so why does he need so much cash and why so secretive about it? The other issue is, if there are a couple of fat cat giving Bakers hundreds of thousands of dollars through loopholes, what do they want in return?

Posted by: VikingRider | March 4, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

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