Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Edwards' campaign picks up fundraising pace

Wynn still holds advantage in cash raised and spent for Dist. 4 congressional primary

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U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn has spent a little more than $1 million - more than twice as much as leading challenger Donna F. Edwards - in the Democratic primary race for the District 4 congressional seat, recently released campaign finance reports show.

Edwards has spent $466,088.98 so far, and has picked up the pace of her fundraising. She has collected more money in the past four months than the eight-term congressman from Mitchellville.

From Oct. 1 to Jan. 23, Edwards raised $440,544.81, compared to Wynn's $415,356.50 over the same period, according to end-of-year statements the candidates were required to file Jan. 31with the Federal Election Commission.

But during the current campaign cycle, which began after the November 2006 congressional election, Wynn (D-Dist. 4) has raised considerably more - his net contributions total $997,794.61, compared to Edwards' $654,910.79.

With voters from Prince George's and Montgomery counties casting ballots Feb. 12, Edwards has more cash on hand than Wynn for the final stretch. Edwards has $204,349 compared to Wynn's $146,466.87.

‘‘I feel like we're right where we need to be,” said Edwards, who lost to Wynn in the 2006 primary by a narrow 3 percentage points, or 2,731 votes.

Edwards, a lawyer and community activist from Fort Washington, has criticized Wynn for taking money from corporate interests. Wynn's campaign responded by filing a complaint Jan. 29 with the FEC alleging that Edwards is ‘‘circumventing” campaign laws through organizations that campaign on her behalf.

The 126-page complaint said numerous organizations, such as the nonprofit They Work For Us, have ties to Edwards and are spending money on her campaign that does not show up on FEC filings.

‘‘All of these things sort of show a different picture of what's going on with the campaign finance for Edwards,” said Lori Sherwood, Wynn's campaign manager.

Edwards responded to the allegations in a statement, calling them ‘‘a desperate eleventh-hour attempt” by Wynn, who she claimed was losing support within the Democratic Party.

Edwards has criticized Wynn for taking money from corporate interests and voting in their favor on legislation.

More than half of Wynn's contributions this campaign cycle has come from political action committees - $591,100 compared with $418,090.50 from individuals, according to the recent filing. He also received $54.11 from a political party committee.

Edwards has received $24,600 from PACs and $630,860.79 from individuals, most of them out-of-state donations, according to her campaign finance documents.

Three organizations, all of them labor unions, have given Edwards the $5,000 maximum contribution: the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and Unite Here, which represents workers in the apparel, hotel, casino, restaurant and food services industries.

Edwards has also received contributions from the Women's Campaign Forum ($1,500), Democracy for America ($1,000) and Women's Action for New Directions ($500) and the League of Conservation Voters ($4,500), where she is a board member.

Many health-care groups have given Wynn the maximum - including the American Medical Association and American Hospital Association - as well as energy groups, including DTE Energy Co., Mirant Corp., and the XCEL Energy Employee PAC.

Wynn has received large contributions from T-Mobile ($5,000), Wal-Mart ($4,000), UPS ($3,300), General Electric ($3,000), Altria Group ($3,000), Duke Energy ($3,000) and American Electric Power ($3,000).

Corporate contributions to Wynn ‘‘are done with transparency and within the limits of campaign finance,” said Sherwood, adding that the congressman has in the past voted against campaign interests on legislative issues.

George E. Mitchell, who also is running in the primary, said, ‘‘There's no difference” between Wynn and Edwards in terms of money.

He said both candidates get most of their contributions from out-of-state backers.

Between Oct. 1 and Jan. 23, 272 of Wynn's 349 contributors came from out-of-state individuals or groups. Of Edwards' 398 contributions over the same period, 316 were from out of state.

Mitchell, a real estate broker from Upper Marlboro whose campaign has raised $92,750, also complained of the attacks Wynn and Edwards are levying against each other.

‘‘Even with money they have, they're still not reaching the people with the issues,” Mitchell said. ‘‘They're using that money to argue with each other.”

E-mail Andy Zieminski at azieminski@gazette.net.