Top-raising candidates in District 12 drew from businesses, PACs

With all three of their delegates retiring, residents of District 12 – which stretches from Columbia to Catonsville, Arbutus and Halethorpe in southwest Baltimore County – will choose three newcomers to the State House in the November elections.

Only six of the 13 candidates running for a District 12 seat,  three Democrats and three Republicans, will survive the June 24 primary and move on to the general election.

They've been hustling; sending out mailers, knocking on doors and shaking hands at the early voting polls. But underlying the outward markers of a campaign – forums, face time – lie the candidates' campaign finance numbers, which tell their own stories of support and strategy.

District 12 candidates' fundraising totals covered a broad spectrum, from less than $1,000 in a given period to upward of $55,000, as was the case for the district's highest fundraiser so far this year, Nick Stewart.

An analysis of the campaign finance reports filed by each candidate since the beginning of the year shows that the highest-raising candidates have tapped a variety of resources to help fund their campaigns, gaining money from political action committees, businesses and individuals alike.

But on a donation-by-donation basis, the most generous contributors were unfailingly PACs and businesses, which on multiple occasions donated the maximum amounts possible: $4,000 for an individual or business and $6,000 from a political action committee or another candidate's campaign war chest.

Stewart, who collected the most cash in 2014 when loans are not taken into account, has raised $55,218.33 since Jan. 8, according to his campaign's most recent finance reports, filed May 27 and June 11.

Stewart gathered funds from 108 individuals and 18 businesses – six of which gave him $4,000 – over that time period.

He was also the candidate to receive funding from the greatest number of political action committees – in total, the lawyer from Arbutus and former speechwriter for Gov. Martin O'Malley hauled in $13,125 from 17 PACs, including $4,000 from O'Malley's political action committee, the O'Say Can You See PAC.

Columbia plastic surgeon Terri Hill was the second highest raiser, gathering $41,686 between Jan. 8 and June 8.

Hill's funds come from 167 individuals and six businesses, as well as from 14 PACs and political campaigns.

Notable contributions to Hill's campaign include a $6,000 transfer from the campaign of District 12 state Sen. Ed Kasemeyer – Hill is the only candidate to be endorsed by him and all three retiring delegates in the district – as well as a $6,000 donation from the SEIU United Healthcare Workers East PAC.

Some 38 percent of Hill's PAC contributions in fact, come from healthcare and medical groups. Hill received a total of $7,850 from medical PACs, including the SEIU United Healthcare Workers, the Maryland Plastic Surgery PAC, the Maryland chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Maryland Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the Maryland Medical PAC.

Johns Hopkins physician Clarence Lam received a healthy dose of medical PAC money, as well.

Since the beginning of the year, Lam has collected $6,000 from the SEIU, as well as $2,200 in smaller contributions from various other medical PACs, including the Baltimore County Physicians PAC, the Maryland Medical PAC and the PAC of Maryland Anesthesiologists.

Lam also received $3,500 from the campaign of Dan Morhaim, a Baltimore County delegate for whom Lam has served as a legislative aide and the only physician currently serving in the State House.

In all, Lam has posted the third strongest fundraising statistics, with $37,593 raised from 118 individuals, 14 businesses and 10 PACs.

Renee McGuirk-Spence, director of governmental relations for the Maryland State Department of Education, collected $28,978 in funds from 82 individuals, five businesses and the campaign of Brian K. McHale, a Baltimore City delegate, who donated $500.

McGuirk-Spence, a former aide to Maryland schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and daughter of the late Maryland Sen. Harry J. McGuirk, raised more than half of her funds from ticket sales to several events this winter and spring. She has also loaned the campaign $1,250 of her own money.

Math teacher and Catonsville resident Eric Ebersole fell in the middle of the fundraising spectrum, with $20,967 in contributions from 80 individuals, five PACs and no businesses since Jan. 8.

Ebersole received the highest contribution possible – $6,000 – from the SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, as well as $3,000 from the SEIU MD/DC State Council, $4,000 from the Maryland State Education Association's Fund for Children and Public Education, $1,000 from the Howard County Professional Firefighters PAC and $250 from the United Transportation Union.

Catsonsville small businessowner Rebecca Dongarra followed close behind, with $18,303.66 collected from 137 individuals, two businesses, one PAC – Equality Maryland – and three political committees.

Dongarra received $250 from the campaign of Baltimore County Circuit Clerk Julie Ensor, $500 from the campaign of Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher and $1,000 from the slate committee to elect Baltimore County Orphans' Court judges.

Despite having the largest war chest – due, in part, to an $85,000 loan he made to his campaign – lobbyist Mike Gisriel collected $16,775 in contributions from January to June.

Gisriel's contributions come from 20 individuals and 19 businesses. He also received $500 from the campaign of Prince George's County state Sen. Jim Rosapepe.

Most of the donations to Gisriel, who served one term as a delegate from Towson and was a Baltimore County real estate attorney until he was disbarred in 2009 for cashing a check intended for a client, come from the Baltimore area and the majority of his donors live outside the district.

Lansdowne resident Brian Bailey collected $12,725 from eight individuals and three businesses.

The bulk of his funds – $12,000 – came in three donations May 27 from separate entities of Whalen Properties Limited Partnership, the business of Steve W. Whalen Jr., a Catonsville developer involved in a controversial mixed-use project near the Spring Grove Hospital Center Campus called the Promenade at Catonsville.

In a distant ninth, Columbia resident and public relations specialist for the American Nurses Association Adam Sachs pulled in $921.58 in funds from 16 individuals, including himself. Sachs also made an $800 loan to his campaign.

Columbia resident and former Orphans' Court judge Jay Fred Cohen has pledged to raise less than $1,000 over the course of the campaign, and therefore doesn't have to file campaign finance reports.

The three Republican candidates are running unopposed, and have each collected less than $5,000.

For more information on the candidates, go to

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