Lawmakers Kick Off New Year With Dizzying Number of Fundraisers
By Josh Kurtz
Dozens of Maryland lawmakers will begin the new year with their palms extended.
About 70 legislators and other state officials, who are banned from raising money during the three-month General Assembly session, which runs from Jan. 10-April 9, have fundraisers scheduled in early January.
It’s a last opportunity for special interests and their Annapolis hired guns to pay tribute before the legislative session. It’s also a last opportunity for lawmakers to gain financial strength before annual campaign finance reports are tallied and released in mid-January. When the session ends, members will have just 10 weeks to resume fundraising before the June 26 primaries.
The money rush starts on Jan. 3 at 7:30 a.m., when Prince George’s Del. Anne Healey (D) hosts a fundraiser at Harry Browne’s, on State Circle in Annapolis, as she seeks an eighth term. Ticket prices start at $125 – and House Speaker Mike Busch (D) will be headlining.
Busch and the lobbying class will then be moving in unison to the Red Red Wine Bar on Main Street, where Montgomery County Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D) is holding a fundraiser for his state Senate bid at 9 a.m. House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck Davis (D) and Vice Chairwoman Sally Jameson (D) will join Busch as the headline attractions. Ticket prices start at $250.
And so it goes for the following week.
Busch himself is having a fundraiser: On Jan. 5 at 8 a.m. at the Calvert House in Annapolis. Ticket prices start at $500.
So is House Speaker Pro Tem Adrianne Jones (D), a night earlier, at the Overhills Mansion in Catonsville – and Busch will be right there with her. Tickets for the Jones fundraiser start at $50.
Four of the six House committee chairmen are also holding fundraisers in Annapolis that week.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh (D) has a breakfast event set for Jan. 4, at a private home. New Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley (D) is the featured attraction, and ticket prices start at $250.
That evening, House Environment & Transportation Chairman Kumar Barve (D) gathers his friends at Harry Browne for a cocktail reception beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $250 and up.
Fifteen minutes later, House Ways & Means Chairwoman Anne Kaiser (D) will be shaking the tin cup at the Red Red Wine Bar, with ticket prices starting at $250.
And on Jan. 8 at 6:15 p.m., House Health & Government Operations Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass (D) is holding a fundraiser at Red Red Wine Bar, also for $250 and up.
House Republicans will also be getting into the act.
On the evening of Jan. 3, Minority Leader Nic Kipke and Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga will hold a joint fundraiser at Blackwall Hitch in Annapolis, with Gov. Larry Hogan (R) as the headliner. Ticket prices start at $250.
Leading senators are also raising money.
Senate Finance Chairman Mac Middleton (D) has his annual pre-session fundraiser at Calvert House, this time at 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 4 at Calvert House. Tickets start at $250.
Senate President Pro Tem Nathaniel McFadden (D) has a fundraiser on Jan. 9 at 8 a.m. at Harry Browne’s, with ticket prices starting at $250. His Democratic primary challenger in Baltimore’s District 45, Del. Cory McCray, has a pre-session event of his own, an opening of his campaign headquarters at 4717 Harford Rd. Suggested ticket prices start at $25.
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R) has a fundraiser in his district on Jan. 5, an evening affair at the Maryland Gold & Country Club in Bel Air. Tickets are $150 per person, $275 per couple.
Jennings is also involved in a fundraiser with the two other Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey and Anne Arundel Sen. Ed Reilly. The event is taking place Jan. 9 at 8:30 a.m. at Harry Browne’s. Each lawmaker is seeking $250.
Republicans on the other Senate committees are holding simultaneous fundraisers at Harry Browne’s that morning, grouped by the committees on which they serve: Addie Eckardt, George Edwards and Andrew Serafani from the Budget and Taxation Committee, who are asking $250 each; Gail Bates, Johnny Salling, Bryan Simonaire and Steve Waugh, from the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, who are asking $250 each; and Wayne Norman, Bob Cassilly, Justin Ready and Michael Hough of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, who are asking $200 each.
Also of note: State Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), who has no Democratic primary opponent at the moment and minimal Republican opposition, has three fundraisers scheduled in January before the session starts. The state’s tax collector will be collecting $250 and up at Red Red Wine Bar on the evening of Jan. 3; $250 and up at Sabatino’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy on the evening of Jan. 4; and $250 and up at Morton’s The Steakhouse on Connecticut Avenue in downtown Washington, D.C., on the evening of Jan. 9.
Equally noteworthy: Indicted state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks (D) is hosting a fundraiser on the evening of Jan. 4 to, according to an invitation, celebrate the “21st anniversary” of his 50th birthday. It takes place at the Forest Park Golf Course in Baltimore. Ticket prices begin at $112. Oaks is under federal indictment for fraud, bribery and obstruction of justice charges. He is scheduled to go to trial on April 16, a week after the General Assembly session ends.
The last fundraiser before the session begins will be the annual opening reception of the Women Legislators of Maryland Foundation, Inc. That event is at 6:30 p.m. at the Calvert House. Ticket prices start at $100.