District 12 candidate Gisriel releases campaign finance report

District 12 candidate Mike Gisriel has filed his electronic campaign finance report, a little less than a month after the Jan. 15 filing deadline.

The report shows Gisriel, a Catonsville Democrat, has $117,256.74 to spend going into 2014, almost twice the cash on hand as Clarence Lam, who with $60,594.65 had been the District 12 candidate with the deepest pockets.

A sizeable chunk of Gisriel's funds come from two loans, totaling $85,000, that the candidate made to his campaign.

The rest of the money comes from individual and business donations totaling $45,300, and two PAC contributions of $250 each – one from the Office and Apartment Building Association of Maryland and one from the Maryland Mortgage Bankers Association.

The majority of Gisriel's donors are from the Baltimore area.

It appears, however, that some of the candidate's individual and business contributions might have been double-counted.

Fifteen names of individuals and businesses with the same, or nearly the same, address appear on the report twice for checks in the same amount submitted on the same date.

The first two entries on the report, for example, list two $500 checks from Vienna-based property management company Allen & Rocks, both written on Nov. 8, 2013.

If the 15 donations were entered twice, the extra amount reported would account for a little less than $5,000 in funds.

Two other businesses, Columbia Palace Limited Partnership and CR Piney Orchard, LLC, appeared a total of four times for checks all written on Oct. 31. Each business was listed once with the same address in Towson and a second time with the same address in Baltimore. If those checks were double-counted, it would bring the total of excess funds to a little less than $7,000.

Gisriel said any double-counting was unintentional. He said some supporters had made multiple contributions, although he said he could only recall Allen & Rocks giving him one check.

"There might have been something inadvertent because there's a fair amount of people," on the donor list, Gisriel said. "But the bottom line number" – $117,256.74 cash on hand – "is correct."

Gisriel said any mishaps might have occurred while transferring data from the paper campaign finance reports on to the state's electronic filing database. Gisriel says his paper finance report arrived at the state Board of Elections on Jan. 13, two days before the filing deadline. Candidates are now required to submit their campaign finance reports electronically.

"It wasn't double-counted in the mailed-in reports, but we had to get somebody do it and they probably did it inadvertently," he said, noting that while his treasurer, Bernadette Sebour, had filled out the paper reports, the campaign had hired a secretary from campaign advising firm CampaignON to file the electronic version. He said Sebour is out of town.

Reached by phone, a Board of Elections official deferred questions to Jared DeMarinis, the director of the candidacy and campaign finance division at the Board of Elections, who had not responded to requests for comment by Wednesday afternoon.

Gisriel said the filing process had changed since the last time he ran a race. He was a delegate representing Towson from 1987 to 1990.

"It used to be they did it all by mail, but now you have to upload [the forms] electronically," he said.

He said he had raised an additional $5,000 to $6,000 since the Jan. 8 cut-off date for the first finance report.

"If there are any errors they were secretarial errors and we'll correct it," he said. "We clearly raised the most resources, we're going to spend them wisely, and I think it's a testament to a lot of people and organizations who think I'm going to do a good job and support me."

Gisriel said a Board of Elections official had told him that he would not be fined for filing on paper rather than online as long as his forms were submitted electronically by the end of this week. His finance report appeared in the Board of Elections' filing system on Feb. 10.

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