GOP county executive candidate Jessica Haire comes under fire for developer donations, leads Herb McMillan in fundraising – Capital Gazette
Republican county executive candidate Jessica Haire is facing criticism for receiving large donations from several groups linked to a developer in Silver Spring.
Haire received about $90,000 from companies listed at Halle Companies, a developer tied to various projects in the county, including a landfill project in Odenton. Seven of the donations, each of $6,000, the maximum allowed by the State Board of Elections, were made in April while she received eight installments of $6,000 from businesses at the Silver Spring address in June.
“I met a few people [at Halle] at different times,” Haire said in an interview Monday. “I will meet anyone who asks to meet me.”
One of Haire’s opponents, Herb McMillan, a former city councilman and Annapolis delegate, criticized Haire at a GOP candidates’ forum last week and called on her to return the money in a statement Monday. McMillan is currently trailing Haire in cash with a week until the July 19 primary. It grossed about $75,000, according to campaign finance reports filed last week. Haire, meanwhile, has about $415,000, according to reports.
“Maybe Jessica Haire considers dumping garbage from other states in Anne Arundel County’s ‘economic development,’ but I don’t,” McMillan said in the statement. “My administration will be a fair arbiter on land use and development decisions. We will not make behind-the-scenes deals for campaign contributions at the expense of the well-being of our fellow citizens.
Some of Halle’s upcoming projects include office buildings in downtown Odenton and the creation of the Chesapeake Terrace Rubble landfill, also in Odenton, a project the company has been working on for about 30 years and which many in the community strongly oppose, including the Crofton Civic Association, Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association and the owners of Two Rivers, according to Odenton resident Ed Riehl.
“I kind of see it as a David versus Goliath story,” Riehl said of residents’ opposition to the project.
Haire said she plans to visit Two Rivers at the end of the month to meet community members about the landfill issue.
County Executive Steuart Pittman’s campaign, the Democratic incumbent, also raised concerns about Halle’s donations.
“It is exactly this kind of politics that leads to the loss of public confidence in our institutions of government, and that leads to disastrous public policy,” Pittman said in a statement.
Accepting donations doesn’t mean she’ll do any particular favors for the company, Haire said.
“I don’t make campaign promises like that,” Haire said, adding that she is his biggest campaign contributor, with loans totaling more than half a million dollars. “My opponents would attack me for investing money in my own campaign, then they would attack me for taking contributions from other people. At this point, it’s absurd what they’re going to attack me for.
Despite this influx of money from Halle-affiliated groups, Haire doesn’t have the most money in the running at the moment. That would be Pittman with about $570,000, about $20,000 more than he announced in early June, according to campaign finance documents.
Pittman, who has no opposition in the Democratic primary, has spent only about $22,000 so far, opting to wait until the general election begins to start spending his campaign war chest.
Most of Pittman’s expenses relate to salaries for various consulting services, according to campaign finance reports.
“We are very fiscally conservative with our campaign spending and expect to need it,” Pittman said. “We plan to spend it by the end of the general election.”
Haire has spent more than $285,000 so far, most of it on publicity like TV commercials, videos, direct mail, phone calls and surveys to help better understand how well his approach is working, according to reports from campaign financing. Haire’s strategy has been to explain her politics to voters rather than let her opponents define it, she said.
“We try to hit voters in a variety of ways,” Haire said. “We are making sure to spread our positive political message and what we are going to achieve in all formats.”
Recent McMillan shippers accuse Haire of backing a civil emergency-related bill “that will cost taxpayers millions every year in unnecessary spending”, despite the legislation being passed by Democratic majority Anne Arundel County Council.
. The sender misquoted Bill 9-21, the Civil Emergency Bill, instead of 9-22, a bill making Juneteenth a public holiday. McMillan said that was unnecessary because each day off costs the county about $2 million in employee wages and benefits.
McMillan spent a significant portion of the $185,000 he raised in early June on publicity, including phone calls, online ads, TV spots and direct mail, according to campaign finance reports. Of the $150,000 McMillan has spent so far, all but $10,000 has been spent on advertising and mailings.
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“Everyone sees the mail,” McMillan said.
To get elected, he said he knew he would have to convince a large part of the elderly population.
“I think they’re going to be an important demographic to elect anybody because they tend to vote in higher proportions,” McMillan said in June. “It’s been like that for quite a while.”
However, every communication medium is important and his campaign is investing in a wide range of messaging platforms, he said.
“You have to do everything,” he said. “I think we are in good shape.”
The three remaining Republicans in contention have significantly less money than their opponents. Corporate recruiter Chris Jahn has $1,500 on hand and has spent most of his money on Facebook ads; former council member John Grasso has $12,000 and spent most of his money on online advertising; and engineer Fernando Berra has less than $1,000. Grasso and Berra said they both fund their own campaigns.
Early voting for primary elections ends on July 14 while primary day is July 19. General elections are held on November 8.