Since taking office two years ago, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has raised $850,000 in campaign cash.
She now boasts a $969,000 war chest with 16 months remaining before the 2020 primary election for mayor.
While not formally announcing her re-election bid, the mayor has hired Democratic Party fundraisers and strategists TruBlu and Mayson-Dixon to run her campaign office on Park Avenue.
In yesterday’s annual report to the Maryland Elections Board, Pugh disclosed a preponderance of contributions from real estate developers and companies doing business with the city – or apparently hoping to.
Associates of Caves Valley Partners, for example, forked out at least $18,000 to the mayor, including $4,000 from CVP principals Arsh Mirmiran and Steven J. Sibel, the latter who chairs the mayor’s finance committee.
The Towson-based development company has many interests in the city, including the Stadium Square apartment complex in Sharp-Leadenhall, a proposed Topgolf entertainment center near the Horseshoe Casino, and now-vacant Social Security Administration buildings on West Franklin Street.
James P. Grant, proprietor of Grant Capital Management, contributed $24,000 to the mayor.
State law caps individual and corporate donations to $6,000, but there is no limit on funneling contributions via the names of family members, business associates or LLCs.
Grant divided his mayoral donations four ways – through himself, through his wife, through his LLC Raven Capital, and through a son living in New York City.
Each gave at the individual contributor maximum of $6,000.
What’s more, Derek Mitchell, vice president of Grant Capital, gave another $5,000, making the total traceable to Grant-related entities $29,000.
Grant’s Columbia-based company holds lucrative leasing contracts with city departments. It is now negotiating a new contract that recently won preliminary approval from Pugh and the Board of Estimates.
Cathy and Danny Bell, also of Columbia, used a similar approach by funneling $6,000 in each of their names – and a third $6,000 payment in the name of “Brdancat Enterprise,” a company owned by the Bells that manages McDonald’s restaurants.
Other contributors whose companies have been awarded multi-million-dollar contracts by the Board of Estimates – whose votes are controlled the mayor – include George P. Mahoney and R.E. Harrington.
Mahoney, owner of sewer-line-installer Monumental Paving & Excavating, gave the mayor $2,000, while Harrington, whose eponymous company installs “urgent-work” water meters for the Department of Public Works, supplied $9,000 through his company and an employee.
The mayor was handed $12,000 by the California couple Kathryn and Kevin Burns. She is a music-venue entrepreneur associated with the Sundance Festival in Utah and he is the CEO of JUUL Labs, an e-cigarette company whose high nicotine content has triggered investigations by the Food and Drug Administration.
Closer to home, an equal sum came from Jeffrey L. Hargrave, a minority contractor who gave the mayor $6,000 in his name and $6,000 in the name of his firm, Mahogany Inc.
Last January, Pugh named Hargrave to the Baltimore Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm, where he sits as vice chairman.
Here are others who made significant donations to Pugh’s campaign committee in 2018:
• Julian J. Min, a Baltimore Police detective who doubles as co-owner of Korean restaurant Jazz+Soju in South Baltimore ($6,000).
• The law firm of trial lawyer William H. “Billy” Murphy ($4,000) and associates of Baltimore Orioles owner and attorney Peter Angelos ($5,000).
• Lydell Mitchell, retired Baltimore Colts running back ($6,000).
• Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University ($3,000), and Redonda Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Hospital ($2,000). Hopkins is seeking city help in gaining General Assembly approval of a private full-power police force to patrol its Homewood and East Baltimore campuses.
• Mark Dambly, principal of affordable housing builder Pennrose ($6,000).
• Downtown developer Howard S. Brown and his company ($6,000).
• Remington real estate companies Seawall Development and Seawall Property Management, founded by father and son Donald and Thibault Manekin ($10,000).
• MCB, a real estate company with interests in Greektown and Reservoir Hill, and an affiliate, 2701 Management LLC ($10,000).
• “Demolition King” Pless Jones through his National Concrete Inc. ($5,000).
• Mark Sapperstein’s McHenry Row real estate company near Locust Point ($4,000).
• C. William Struever, developer of Hoen Lithograph building in East Baltimore ($3,000).
• Medical marijuana grower Michael G. Bronfein ($2,000).
• Jonathan Ehrenfeld, who won the mayor’s approval of the controversial “Overlook at Roland Park” apartment complex in Poplar Hill ($2,000).
• Calvin Butler, CEO of BGE ($2,000).
• Kurt Schmoke, former mayor and current president of University of Baltimore ($1,000).
• Wheelabrator, operator of the city-owned incinerator plant in South Baltimore ($1,000).
• Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, a Towson law firm headed by the son of Pugh’s Chief of Strategic Alliances Jim Smith ($3,000).
• Andre M. Davis, appointed by Pugh as city solicitor in 2017 ($1,500).
• Jonathan Schochor and his law firm, Schochor, Federico & Staton ($12,000).
• Harbor East restaurateur Alex Smith ($3,000).
• Graylin E. Smith, founding partner of SB & Co., a Hunt Valley accounting firm that conducts many city audits ($5,953). Smith also co-hosted a recent fundraiser for Pugh.
• Companies associated with Howard Perlow, founder of the “Maryland Party” for real estate interests and Maryland politicians held every May in Las Vegas during the RECon International Shopping Centers Convention ($9,000).
• City Hall lobbyist Frank D. Boston ($2,000).
in addition, ex-South Baltimore Councilman Bill Cole transferred $6,000 from his campaign committee to Pugh’s campaign committee. Cole now runs Baltimore Development Corporation, the city’s development arm.