Campaign finance reports show D.C. candidates ramping up spending

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D.C. candidates have upped their spending in the past month as contenders make last-minute appeals to voters who haven’t already cast their ballots, according to the final round of campaign finance reports that were due before the June 21 Democratic primary.

For the second straight month, mayoral candidate Robert C. White Jr., an at-large D.C. Council member, has reported more individual contributions from D.C. residents than incumbent Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, though she’s raised more than twice as much as White over the course of their campaigns. In the month leading up to June 10, Bowser brought in about $30,000 from 240 District residents — up from $18,156 in the last reporting period — as well as $15,222 from donors who live outside the District, according to the reports. White raised $32,510 from 464 D.C. residents and $7,716 from nonresidents in the same span.

Both campaigns increased their spending significantly since their last reports, which captured campaign activity through the month of April into early May. White’s campaign has spent more than $904,000 since May 11, with about $483,000 going toward advertising; Bowser’s campaign spent more than $1.3 million this period, $500,000 of which went toward advertising expenses.

Bowser reports having significantly more cash on hand, however. She has more than $1.6 million remaining to close out the period, while White has about $181,000. Both candidates are using the city’s public financing program, which caps individual donations at small dollar amounts while matching donations from city residents 5 to 1 with taxpayer funds.

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The two other Democratic mayoral candidates, Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) and former advisory neighborhood commissioner James Butler, who is not using public financing and thus has a higher limit on individual contributions, had not submitted reports to the Office of Campaign Finance by Monday afternoon. Trayon White requested an extension, OCF spokesman Wesley Williams said.

The majority of candidates for mayor, attorney general and city council opted into the Fair Elections Program — and in the contest for D.C. attorney general, the use of public financing has emerged as one of the few ways in which the three candidates have sought to distinguish themselves to voters.

Venable partner-in-charge Brian Schwalb and solo practitioner attorney Ryan Jones opted into the program, while Bruce V. Spiva, a former managing partner at the Perkins Coie law firm, did not. The most recent fundraising reports show that Schwalb took in about $21,400 from D.C. residents and $14,000 from nonresidents.

Schwalb has now raised a total of $1.1 million when including public financing, though he saw a decrease in overall contributions since the last reporting period. Spiva has raised a total of about $423,000 in his campaign — and his most recent report shows that he has also loaned his own campaign $535,000.

Jones has received about $246,000 over the course of his campaign but increased his donations from D.C. residents and nonresidents since his last report, taking in $2,523 from residents and $1,112 from nonresidents this reporting period.

On top of candidates’ individual campaign coffers, the latest filings also show that two education groups have poured more than $1.3 million into the races. The D.C. chapter of Democrats for Education Reform — a group that supports charter schools and the city’s current system of mayoral control — has spent more than a million dollars to back Bowser, incumbent D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 3 candidate Eric Goulet.

The group, which is not allowed to coordinate with individual campaigns, has received significant funds from prominent national figures, including Alice Walton, a daughter of the founder of Walmart and backer of charter schools. DC Charter School Action, an independent expenditure committee, has spent nearly $300,000 so far this election cycle. No other organization, according to campaign finance reports, has spent even a fraction of what these groups have spent in the local elections.

The reports also help show how the races for D.C. Council are shaping up in the final stretch before the primary.

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In the race for chair of the D.C. Council, Mendelson, who is not using public financing, has taken in more than $259,000 since March 11 and $779,464 in total; he has $316,241 cash on hand. In her campaign to unseat Mendelson, advisory neighborhood commissioner Erin Palmer reports receiving just under $10,000 in individual contributions in the past month, with 95 percent of donations coming from D.C. residents. She has more than $88,000 cash on hand to close out her primary campaign.

In the increasingly intense race for the Ward 1 council seat, where all three candidates are using public financing, former police officer Salah V. Czapary reports raising more than $11,300 from D.C. residents in the past month while two-term incumbent Brianne K. Nadeau raised $10,844. He has outraised her in local donations for two straight reporting periods, though Nadeau raised more from nonresidents in the last reporting period.

Nadeau and Czapary have raised a total of about $241,000 and $209,000, respectively, and now have similar amounts of cash on hand to close out the period. Sabel Harris, who is running on a similar liberal platform as Nadeau, raised just over $500 from individual donors in the past reporting period and has raised a total of about $50,000, including taxpayer funds.

Czapary spent about $122,900 in the reporting period — including just under $72,000 for campaign mailers — representing more than 60 percent of his total campaign expenditures. Almost half of Nadeau’s $200,000 in spending has come in the last reporting period as well, with the lion’s share going toward consulting fees.

The reports also help differentiate candidates in the hotly contested Democratic primary in Ward 3. Seven candidates are using public financing; high-schooler Henry Cohen opted not to fundraise in the race, while former advisory neighborhood commissioner and housing advocate Deirdre Brown is using traditional fundraising and has raised about $77,500 over the course of her campaign.

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Of the Ward 3 candidates participating in public financing, local activist Matthew Frumin leads in fundraising with a total of $205,800; he has also spent the most, and just like his rival candidates, the majority of his spending has taken place in the last reporting period.

Monte Monash, a former D.C. Library board member ranks second in total receipts at $146,708. She’s followed closely by Palisades community leader Tricia Duncan, who garnered outgoing Ward 3 Council member Mary M. Cheh’s support last month — as well as Goulet and Ward 3 Democrats Chair Phil Thomas.

Goulet, who was endorsed last month by The Washington Post editorial board, outraised all the Ward 3 candidates in this reporting period. Rounding out the pack are advisory neighborhood commissioners Ben Bergmann and Beau Finley, who’ve raised about $99,000 and $106,000 in their campaigns, respectively.

In Ward 5, four of seven candidates had submitted finance reports by Monday afternoon, while Williams said that the others obtained extensions. In the race for at-large member of the D.C. Council, two of four candidates requested extensions.

Looking ahead to November’s general election, three independents running for an at-large council seat also filed reports this week. Newcomer Graham McLaughlin, who is running as a business-friendly candidate, has outraised incumbent Elissa Silverman so far, taking in about $185,000 to Silverman’s $165,000, though Silverman raised more in the most recent reporting period. Karim Marshall, the third candidate in the race, has raised $14,787 so far.

Perry Stein contributed to this report.

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