Both major party candidates running for Maryland's open Senate seat reported raising less money to the Federal Election Commission in their most recent disclosure report than they informally suggested, a discrepancy that appears to have been caused by a quirk in the reporting schedule.
Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen raised $1.5 million from April 7 to the end of June, about 18 percent less than the $1.8 million his campaign touted in a press release. Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga reported raising $463,000, about 20 percent under the $582,170 the campaign initially distributed.
Generally when a campaign previews its fundraising numbers with the media ahead of a filing the expectation is that the previewed number will closely match the figure put on file with the FEC. The differences this time were caused by how the election calendar in Maryland lined up with the FEC's schedule.
Normally the elections agency would have required candidates to file a first-quarter report on April 15 that covers fundraising from Jan. 1 to March 31. But because 2016 is an election year, candidates are also required to file a pre-primary election report. Maryland's primary was April 26, meaning the the two reports -- first quarter and pre-primary -- would have come exceedingly close to one another.
Instead, the FEC allowed candidates in Maryland to waive the first quarter report and simply report all their fundraising and expenses in the pre-primary report, which covered Jan. 1 through April 6 -- or one week beyond the close of the first quarter.
That set up a situation where the "second quarter," at least for FEC purposes, began on April 7 rather than April 1.
So, when the Van Hollen and Szeliga campaigns previewed their numbers to the media -- and discussed their fundraising in the "second quarter" -- they included fundraising going back to April 1. Both campaigns used some iteration of the words "second quarter" in their material to reporters.
The FEC report, however, starts the clock on April 7, meaning it wraps in one week less of fundraisers, phone calls, internet donations and unsolicited checks -- thus the smaller numbers.
The cash-on-hand numbers released early by both campaigns matched their reports: $567,000 for Van Hollen and $255,000 for Szeliga.