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Rep. John Sarbanes
Rep. John Sarbanes

More than 60 percent of donors to congressional candidates in Maryland gave more than $1,000 and the state ranked 31st in the nation for inequality between small and large contributions, according to a report released Tuesday by groups supporting campaign finance reform.

The study, which considered political donations made for the primary election, found that 122 large donors in Maryland outspent 2,440 people who gave less than $200 -- underscoring the influence a small group of wealthy donors can have on political campaigns.

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Maryland PIRG Foundation and Demos released the report.

"The voices of small donors in Maryland are increasingly drowned out by the spending of a small cadre of large donors, and ordinary citizens are the ones who lose out," Maryland PIRG Foundation Director Emily Scarr said in a statement.

Maryland's congressional primaries were particularly sleepy this year, which may have influenced the outcome. Incumbents in particular often receive a higher percentage of large donations when they're not facing a strong challenge -- and, therefore, are not actively fundraising.

Both groups support a bill by Rep. John Sarbanes that would create a matching fund and a $25 tax credit for small donations. The Baltimore County Democrat has emerged as a leading voice raising concerns about the influence of money in politics.

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