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Moran's Finance Report Scrutinized by Deeds

Tim Craig

A campaign staffer for Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a Democratic candidate for governor, is accusing Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) of turning in misleading information about his own gubernatorial campaign's fundraising numbers.

The charge by Peter Jackson, a Deed's spokesman, comes amid growing acrimony between the two candidates for the Democratic nomination in next year's governor's race.

On Tuesday, Moran released campaign finance reports that showed he had $924,000 in the bank, although a week earlier he put out a press release stating he expected to have only $800,000 on hand. Deeds, who lives in Bath County, reported he had $650,000 in the bank. But a closer examination of Moran's finance report reveals he essentially stopped spending money in June, the last month of the reporting period.

In April, Moran spent $113,000 on staff and other expenses. In May, he spent about $119,000. In June, Moran spent just $4,000, mainly because he didn't pay his staff.

Jackson said it appears as if Moran didn't pay some of his bills so he could report more cash in the bank, a relatively standard practice for political campaigns looking to prove they have the advantage in the money race.

"Either they have the guys from Enron to 'cook the books' or they are spending money so fast they can't keep track of how quickly it is going out the door," Jackson said of Moran's campaign.

Jesse F. Ferguson, a Moran spokesman, said the campaign's payroll was due in July instead of June. "Payroll for Virginians for Brian Moran is scheduled for the end of the month or the beginning of the month following, sometimes it's in one and sometimes it's in an another," he said.

Ferguson said Moran also spent less money in June because he traveled fewer places so he could focus on fundraising.

Ferguson also noted that Deeds, who pays his staff twice monthly, only paid his staff once last month, suggesting Deeds did the same thing that Jackson is accusing Moran of.

But Jackson counters the two issues are "not comparable."

"Going from spending on average $125,000 a month to spending $4,000 a month, there simply isn't any comparison," Jackson said.

In May, Deeds spent $45,800. He spent $39,000 in June, Jackson said.

The real issue, Jackson charged, is that Moran is spending too much on staff, especially considering the Democratic primary is a little less than a year away.

Moran has hired several of Virginia's top political strategists, including Steve Jarding and Mame Reiley. Jarding and Reiley both have close ties to former governor Mark R. Warner, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Moran pays Jarding $5,000 a month. He pays Reiley's consulting firm $15,000 a month, according to the finance report.

Moran is also paying Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) $7,500 a month to be an "outreach consultant." Combined with other staffers and consultants, Moran paid more than $60,000 in personnel costs in May.

Ferguson said Moran, who is making his first bid for statewide office, makes no apologies for staffing up early. "Delegate Moran has been very clear that he was building a team and developing the infrastructure early to level the playing field against opponents who have run statewide," said Ferguson, who noted a recent poll showed Moran and Deeds were essentially tied.

Deeds, who was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2005, spends on average $22,500 a month on staff and consultants, Jackson said.

"I guess it's the Moran economic stimulus plan - no consultant is left behind," Jackson said. "By the time this campaign is over, they will have every inside-the-Beltway political consultant on the payroll."

Ferguson responded, "It's unfortunate that they would attack the service of Mark Warner's political director (Reiley) and Mark Warner and Jim Webb's campaign manager (Jarding). I have no interest in responding in kind."

By Tim Craig  |  July 16, 2008; 8:31 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Tim Craig  
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Next: Virginia Notebook: The State's Purple Places


Creigh Deeds aka totally desperate. wow.

Posted by: wow creigh | July 16, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Based on this post, there is little or no chance that Deeds will drop back to the Attorney General race. The only remaining question is, what does Delegate Lionell Spruill do to earn $7,500 per month?

Posted by: Addison DeWitt | July 17, 2008 1:05 AM | Report abuse

$7500 gets you Spruill's support. Moran must be smart, he knows he can't win downstate so he starts buying support wherever he can. With his fundraising, he may just have enough to buy the primary.

You wonder what would happen if Spruill stopped getting paid.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Wow this does sound a little fishy. Very convenient that there just happened to be no expenses before the campaign finance deadline.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

$7,500 a month? I believe they call that "street money."

Posted by: Dandy McAdams | July 17, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

A desperate man gets out the check book and tries to buy the election. I think Virginians are beyond that. By a member of Deeds' staff pointing out accounting irregularities, I don't draw the same nexus to being desperate. Ferguson taking the high road is a hoot, any of you with the inside know what I am talking about.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Will the Independent Greens of Virginia put a pro rail candidate on the ballot?

They've endorsed and joined T. Boone Pickens -

Deeds is a decent fellow.

Moran strikes me as too much Yankee for Rebel Virginia.

Posted by: Jane Payne | July 19, 2008 1:25 AM | Report abuse

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