Supporters and opponents of Maryland’s upcoming ballot questions have raised $50 million for their particular causes, and the money continues to flow in.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a group supporting same-sex marriage, raised $3.2 million from more than 9,000 donors, according to campaign finance reports submitted late last week. But Monday, the group announced that another $250,000 rolled in from a single donor: hedge-fund guru Paul Singer, who runs the New York City-based Elliott Management and is a frequent donor to Republican campaigns.
Singer, who has given to other groups supporting same-sex marriage, joined a fellow New Yorker, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also has contributed a quarter-million dollars to the Maryland campaign.
“Paul Singer demonstrates real leadership yet again on marriage equality,” state Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R-Dist. 9) of West Friendship, who supported the legislation, said in a statement Monday. “He realizes, like I do, that Question 6 is about fairness and equality under the law — values we all, no matter party, share here in Maryland."
The Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group leading the campaign against same-sex marriage in Maryland, has raised roughly $839,000 from about 300 donors. Two of the group’s major donors include the Connecticut-based Knights of Columbus, which gave $250,000, and the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which contributed $400,000. Another $151,000 was donated by the alliance itself, which was formed months before it began to function as a ballot issue committee.
“We'll let the massive gap between our number of individual donors and theirs speak for itself," Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said in a statement. “Our opponents raised almost 80 percent of their funds from two secretive organizations that don't disclose their donors, yet we’ve still raised more from Maryland residents alone than they have overall.”
The difference in fundraising levels — and the number of donors — was indicative of shifting opinions on same-sex marriage in the state, said Todd Eberly, professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City.
A few years ago, many more people likely would have written checks opposing the measure, but with same-sex marriage already legal in several states and on the ballot in others, “the feeling that this is a must-win battle has sort of disappeared,” Eberly said. He added that polling data on the issue often underestimates the opposition vote, and it was still possible for the measure to be rejected.
Derek McCoy, chairman of the alliance, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Another group, Jump the Broom for Marriages, which is working to convince blacks to vote against same-sex marriage, raised $21,881, of which $21,000 came from Julius Henson, a campaign aide to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R) who was convicted in May of conspiracy to violate election law.
Henson was one of the men behind campaign robo-calls on Election Day 2010 that urged Democratic voters to “relax” because President Barack Obama and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) already had won.
Henson told The Gazette on Monday that he had helped organize Jumping the Broom prior to his sentencing in June, which forbade him from political work but not from making donations as a private citizen. Since then he has just been a donor, he said.
Educating Maryland Kids, a coalition supporting the Maryland Dream Act, which offers in-state college tuition to some undocumented immigrants, has raised more than $1.5 million.
But the bulk of ballot-issue spending came from the fierce, ongoing media battle about whether to expand gambling in the state by allowing table games and a sixth casino in Prince George’s County.
In one corner stands For Maryland Jobs & Schools, largely financed by MGM Resorts International, which wants to put a casino at National Harbor in Oxon Hill. The group has raised nearly $23 million in its campaign in favor of expansion.
In the other corner is Get the Facts — Vote No on 7, which has raised more than $25 million to oppose expansion. That group is financed by Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing, Pa., which owns Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, W.Va., a popular destination for Maryland gamblers that stands to lose revenue if a new casino is build in the state.