How much money is $2,042,225.63?
Well, in District political campaigns, look at it this way: It took former mayor Anthony A. Williams 29 months to reach that total in 2002—and much of that sum was collected after his legendary primary-petitions fiasco scared the city’s business community into shelling out for its bow-tied protector.
Current Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has done it in three months, nearly two years prior to the next election, and in the midst of the worst economic crisis since Boss Shepherd ruled this town.
How furiously do people write checks to the Fenty cause? Hell, in an eight-day span of December—a week that included the massive birthday bash hosted at the home of developer Chris Donatelli—his reelection reeled in checks worth $1,088,129.
It’s an impressive fundraising feat for this town—one that will almost certainly forestall anything but token competition—and one that inspired a series of platitudes from Hizzoner unusually stultifying even by his standards. You know, stuff like “we’re working as hard as humanly possible” and “you only campaign at one speed” and “we can’t take anything for granted.”
Such a feat deserves more analysis than that. If Fenty isn’t going to crow about the Green Machine’s prowess, LL will.
CAP AND TRADE
With a $2,000 limit on donations, it can be hard for any lonely old business to get noticed. But there are several ways around the rules.
1. PLAY THE CORPORATE SHELL GAME. Check out Roadside Development, the firm currently trying to redevelop the O Street Market in Shaw. Like a lot of developers, Roadside has a bunch of projects, each with a separate corporation set up. The firm itself was good for $2K, as were principals Richard Lake, Armond Spikell, and Todd Weiss. But add in max donations from Burke Roadside LLC, O Street Roadside LLC, and Clarksville Roadside LLC, and you’ve nearly doubled down, from $8,000 to $14,000.
2. SQUEEZE THE EMPLOYEES. Sometimes you have to go below top management if you’re really going to pad those fundraising numbers. Some local employers seem to have a Midas touch when it comes to persuading their employees to contribute of their own free will. One is local accounting and consulting powerhouse Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates; the company itself and the three guys in its title were enough to produce $8,000 for the Fenty fund, but 15 additional donations from other TCBA employees and family were enough to push the firm fundraising north of $30,000. Fenty racked up $2,000 donations from folks with titles like “Payroll Administ.” and “Office Manager.”
3. GET THE FAMILY IN ON THE ACT. For some enterprises, there’s no need to tap the employee base—family ties provide all the resources you need. Sure, the Ratner clan behind Forest City Enterprises knows how to spread the wealth, but the true master of shaking the family money tree goes is developer Franklin L. Haney.
First off, Haney tossed in a $2,000 donation from Chattanooga, Tenn., where from the same address he donated $8,000 from four different corporate entities. But that’s just a warmup: Haney has five kids. There’s Emeline Michelle Maddux ($2,000) of McLean, who’s married to Victor Maddux ($2,000). Mae Grennan ($2,000) lives in Spring Valley with husband Anderson Grennan ($2,000). Margaret Haney ($2,000), of Georgetown, is married to Chris Ferguson ($2,000), and her sister Mary Alice Haney ($2,000) is a movie producer way out in Pacific Palisades, Calif., married to Graham Larson ($2,000). The only Haney sibling, in fact, who didn’t donate, was Frank Haney Jr. But his wife, Katelin Dial ($2,000), did.
Nothing wrong with showing a little love to the boss, right?
Certainly not for employees of the District government—67 of whom forked over $12,644 to the chief executive.
Among top executive honchos, donors included school-construction czar Allen Lew ($1,000), DCRA chief Linda Argo ($500), Housing Authority chief Michael Kelly ($100), and Department of Housing and Community Development Director Leila Edmonds ($500). Taxicab Commission chair Leon Swain kicked in $700, and gay-and-lesbian affairs chief Christopher Dyer, humbly billing himself as “civil servant,” gave $100.
It was also an opportunity to say thanks for promotions: Millicent Williams, plucked from Serve DC to head the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp., gave $200. General Counsel Chip Richardson, who took Peter Nickles’ old slot, also gave $200, and Tracy Sandler, recently promoted from bullpen functionary to Boards and Commission head, threw in $150.
The departed and soon-to-be-departed weren’t stingy, either: Former policy chief JoAnne Ginsberg and Obama-bound CTO Vivek Kundra both threw in $1,000.
Among those in communications, mayoral flacks Mafara Hobson ($150) and Leslie Kershaw ($50) kicked in, but they both have a ways to go to match OPM flack Bill Rice, who was good for not one but three donations totaling $401.
As far as that other branch of government: Fellow green machiner Muriel Bowser forked over $500, but only two other D.C. Council employees stepped up with a little something. Both owe their jobs to folks who aren’t exactly Fenty allies—Susan Banta, hired by Chairman Vincent Gray to direct his Office of Policy Analysis, gave $100, and James Pittman, Harry Thomas Jr.’s committee counsel, gave $50.
FENTY’S GOOD LUCK CHARM
When Fenty launched his re-election campaign, his fundraising functionaries had no doubt as to who would get their first call.
That would be Bruce Klores. “It was clearly superstition,” he says.
Klores, a trial lawyer based in Dupont Circle, has been the earliest donor to Fenty “at least since the last campaign, and probably for the ones before that,” he says. And remember—-Fenty’s never lost a race. So when Hizzoner’s money people called him up in October and asked if he wanted to be first, he said he’d be happy to. “I didn’t care if i was No. 1 or not…[but] he’s got a pretty good track record,” Klores says, “so if he’s superstitious, more power to him.”
Klores signed a $2,000 check on Oct. 26—Fenty 2010’s only collection until Nov. 2.
He didn’t stop there. He kicked in another $2,000 from his firm; his wife and one of his law partners wrote checks, too. And if you thought Donatelli’s birthday tent bash was Fenty’s first fundraiser, think again: Klores hosted about 40 donors in his office for a breakfast the day before that bash—-“lawyers and some local business people…personal friends and family.”
So far Klores’ luck is holding; the lawyer seems a little shocked at the $2 million haul. “It’s a lot of money for a mayoral campaign, but if he thinks he needs it…that’s what the cost of doing business is, I can’t criticize him for that.”
Special LL thanks to Will Atwood Mitchell and Ryan J. Reilly for research assistance.
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