Thanks to personal loan, Vignarajah leads Mosby, Bates in money race for Baltimore state's attorney

Thanks to a $250,000 personal loan, former Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah has the most cash on hand in the race for Baltimore state’s attorney.

Vignarajah’s $412,000 on hand — which included $175,000 in contributions and the loan he gave his campaign — outpaces incumbent State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and fellow challenger Ivan Bates in the first campaign finance filing of 2018.

With five months to go before the June primary election in Baltimore, Mosby reported about $285,000 on hand after raising about $330,000 over the past year. Bates has $184,000 to campaign on after raising $250,000.

Vignarajah said the personal loan to the campaign “guarantees the campaign will have the resources to compete and win a tough citywide race,” and pointed to the fact that he raised $150,000 in the first 10 days of the year alone.

Mosby has not formally filed for re-election, and has been mum on her plans, saying, “I’ve been focused on being state’s attorney.”

“I haven’t started a campaign nor hired a staff,” she told The Baltimore Sun recently.

Last year, she held fundraisers across the country. Those included events in Atlanta in August headlined by that city’s mayor and district attorney, in Chicago in September, then in Los Angeles in October with Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Maxine Waters. She also held an event in Washington, D.C., and several local fundraisers, including one at the Ritz-Carlton residences in South Baltimore and a birthday concert at Baltimore Soundstage last week.

Mosby said Thursday morning that 58 percent of her contributions were from Baltimore residents, with a similar percentage of those contributions under $100.

“I’m blessed to have a network of supporters in Baltimore and around the country who believe in me,” Mosby said. “They have stepped up and been very generous.”

Bates said he was encouraged by his fundraising figures. He noted that 80 percent of his donations were local.

“The broad-based support my campaign received across Baltimore City speaks to the fact that the residents of Baltimore are ready for change,” Bates said, calling himself a political outsider. “With over 1,000 murders under the current administration, crime is clearly out of control, and right now the lack of leadership and disarray in the current state’s attorney’s office is part of the problem.”

Mosby received $8,500 from companies connected to contractor Pless Jones, and the $6,000 individual maximum from the Cochran Firm. Her husband, Del. Nick Mosby, also gave $6,000, and political ally Rep. Elijah Cummings transferred $4,500 from his campaign.

She received $5,500 combined in contributions from Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow and Janice Bledsoe, who prosecuted the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, while Bates, who defended Sgt. Alicia White in the case, received donations from other defense attorneys in the case.

Bates also received $10,000 from two companies connected to Lexington National Insurance, a bail-bond company. Retired NBA star Elton Brand gave $1,000.

Earlier Wednesday, Vignarajah announced he would not be taking money from the bail-bond industry and its lobbyists, employees of the state’s attorney’s office, or representatives of the private prison industry.

He released a list of his donors that includes Neal Katyal, a Georgetown law professor who fought President Trump’s travel ban, former ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Dean Strang, an attorney known from the “Making a Murderer” documentary on Netflix; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and several federal prosecutors in Maryland, including Leo Wise, who is leading the racketeering case against eight Baltimore Police officers.

Bates and Vignarajah, like Mosby, have not formally filed to run.

By the numbers: 2018 Maryland election campaign finances »

The campaign for state’s attorney’s was a low-dollar race during the tenure of Patricia C. Jessamy, who served three terms and never raised more than $130,000 in a cycle.

Gregg Bernstein raised the bar during his run in 2010. A late entrant to the race, he raised nearly $290,000 in the three months before the primary that year and won the election.

For his re-election fight, he more than doubled that amount, amassing $440,000 before the primary, and out-fundraising Mosby 4-to-1.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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