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Elections

Incumbent Marilyn Mosby far behind Ivan Bates, Thiru Vignarajah in fundraising for Baltimore State’s Attorney’s race

In the race to be elected Baltimore City State’s Attorney, two-term incumbent Marilyn Mosby is not raising nearly as much money as Ivan Bates or Thiru Vignarajah, her two Democratic primary challengers, according to campaign finance reports filed late Tuesday.

From Jan. 13 to June 7, Mosby raised $38,738 and spent $58,115. She has $177,827 on hand from her previous campaigns. Mosby is under federal indictment, with prosecutors charging her with two counts of perjury and two counts of mortgage fraud related to her purchase of two Florida vacation homes. Her trial is scheduled for September, after the July 19 primary election.

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Challengers Bates and Vignarajah have raised money with fervor. Bates reported raising $449,328 this period and Vignarajah reported even more, claiming $600,784 in contributions. The entirety of Vignarajah’s fundraising has come since mid-March, when he announced his candidacy.

While both men have at least twice as much cash on hand as Mosby — Bates seems to be the only candidate spending significant money in the run-up to the election. Since Jan. 13, Bates has spent $221,013, nearly four times as much as Mosby and five times as much as Vignarajah.

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Most of Bates’ expenditures are on media buys, billboard advertising, fundraising expenses and consultants. Bates’ campaign paid three different consulting firms more than $68,000. And most of Bates’ media spending is with Mosaic Communications, an Arlington, Virginia, consultancy group producing radio ads for the campaign.

“We are positioned to win the state’s attorney race,” Bates’ Campaign Manager Nick Machado said.

Of the $41,562 that Vignarajah’s campaign has spent, $22,000 was on polling. He spent another $6,778 on signage, including money to wrap a privately-owned, decommissioned ambulance that has been seen driving around the city. Vignarajah rarely struggles for local airtime, making frequent appearances on the TV station Fox45, Baltimore’s Sinclair affiliate.

Spending less early in the race is part of the plan, Vignarajah said.

“We’re running a disciplined campaign which is why we have more cash on hand than both of the other campaigns, combined,” he said. “The other campaigns’ apparent inability to either raise or conserve these critical resources is going to be an obstacle for them to get the word out in this critical last phase.”

A Democrat, Vignarajah has several high-profile Republican endorsements, including Gov. Larry Hogan.

Vignarajah lended $160,000 to his campaign and Bates lended $128,000 to his. Both campaigns have raised more than enough money to repay those loans. Mosby’s campaign has no outstanding loans.

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Mosby’s campaign spent money on computer equipment and on consulting, according to her finance report. Mosby’s campaign has produced one video advertisement and did not open a campaign headquarters until Saturday.

Mosby announced her reelection bid April 12, much later than her opponents, and has increased her fundraising activity in the past week.

The campaign spent $15,600 with Quincey Gamble, a consultant who resigned from her 2018 campaign after it was revealed he faced assault and harassment charges related to two separate women he dated. Gamble was charged in Baltimore City, and his case was active while he worked for the campaign.

Mosby’s office assigned an outside prosecutor, Steven Kroll of the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association, to handle the cases against Gamble. In both cases, the charges were either dropped or indefinitely postponed, according to court records.

Mosby’s campaign did not return a request for comment Wednesday on the decision to hire Gamble as a consultant again. The State’s Attorney’s Office referred questions about Gamble to the campaign.

Mosby has few high-dollar donations, with just two people giving $6,000, the maximum donation under Maryland law. Both donors are California residents, and one of them, Patty Quillin, is married to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

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Locally, former Baltimore mayor and current University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke gave Mosby her largest in-town donation, with $1,500 on June 1.

Unlike her January report, which contained significant legal expenses, Mosby used no campaign money for attorneys from January to June, her latest report shows.

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The Maryland State Board of Elections opened an inquiry into $48,000 Mosby paid from her account for legal fees in 2021. State law prohibits candidates and political committees from using campaign funds for legal expenses related to investigations or court proceedings that “do not have a direct connection with the candidacy.”

State election officials ultimately found Mosby did not violate election law, but also warned their decision applied only to Mosby’s past legal spending.

Although he entered the campaign late, Vignarajah proved to be a fundraising force, collecting maximum $6,000 donations from at least 55 donors. At least seven members of the Smith family, associated with Sinclair Broadcasting Group and Atlas Restaurant Group, gave maximum donations to Vignarajah, totaling $42,000.

Restaurateur Alex Smith, the restaurant group’s founder and president, and his wife Christina Ghani, were among the maximum donations to Vignarajah, but also contributed to Bates earlier in the campaign, also giving him the maximum.

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Vignarajah’s donors were largely local, but several sizable contributions flowed in from supporters in California. Mark H. Fukunaga, chairman of Servco Pacific in Hawaii, contributed the maximum $6,000 as did a trust in Fukunaga’s name.

Bates collected the maximum donation from about 40 supporters. Among them were J. Mark Schapiro, co-chairman of Continental Realty Corp. who gave the maximum $6,000, and several other members of the Schapiro family. The realty group, based in Baltimore County, has financially backed Bates in the past. Jack Luetkemeyer, also a co-chairman, lended $150,000 to Bates’ failed 2018 campaign for state’s attorney.

Baltimore Sun reporter Alex Mann contributed to this article.

For the record

This article has been updated to correct information about loans Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah made to their campaigns. The Sun regrets the error.


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