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.)
March 4, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County
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