WASHINGTON – Florida may be the sunshine state, but for Maryland, it is also a money state.
Florida residents contributed $20,250 to Maryland members of the House of Representatives in 1999, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, third behind Virginia and the District of Columbia for contributions from outside Maryland.
Florida residents accounted for 15 percent of the total $134,650 in individual contributions to Maryland House members from outside the state, according to the FEC.
Out-of-state funds accounted for almost one-quarter of the $550,204 in individual donations Maryland House members received in 1999. Those numbers do not include political action committees, party or other group donations.
A spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors campaign finance, said that while contributions often come from neighboring states like Virginia, the reasons for a high Florida number are harder to determine.
“A lot of people have moved down to Florida from Maryland,” said Larry Makinson, the spokesman. “It’s probably a retirement thing.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, raised the majority of the Florida cash, bringing in $17,250. His spokeswoman, Debra DeShong, noted that Hoyer lived in Florida for a short time, but she could not otherwise offer an explanation for the Florida connection.
Along with Hoyer, Maryland’s House Democratic Reps. Al Wynn of Largo, and Elijah Cummings and Ben Cardin, both of Baltimore, outpaced their GOP counterparts in out-of-state fund raising by $21,700.
Makinson said accepting donations from out-of-state is not unusual, but that it more often seen in Senate races. House members usually get 70 to 80 percent of campaign donations from inside their states, he said.
“Sometimes members will go out-of-state if they come from an inner-city district where there is little money,” Makinson said. “But it is also true for those members in the leadership.”
While no Maryland member currently holds a leadership position, Hoyer has announced plans to seek the post of majority whip if the Democrats take control of the House this November. In his quest for the position, DeShong said Hoyer has no problem accepting money from residents of other states. “We abide by all FEC regulations,” she said. “But right now there are no specific groups we wouldn’t accept from.” On the Republican side, Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, led the way with out-of-state individual donations of $41,725. Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, followed with $14,750 in non-Maryland money. A spokesman said that while Ehrlich prefers to solicit donations from his Baltimore County district, he does accept support from elsewhere, including from fellow alumni from Princeton University, where he played football. “Many contributions come from Republicans living in Democratic districts who feel they are not represented,” said Steve Kreseski, the spokesman. “But you’ll always see the bulk of his donations coming from his district.” Neither Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, nor Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R- Frederick, recorded any out-of-state donations and few from outside their districts. That is largely by design. Gilchrest spokesman Tony Caligiuri said that since 1992, the lawmaker has had a self-imposed policy of not accepting donations from outside Maryland or from political action committees. Gilchrest will accept contributions from Maryland residents outside his Eastern Shore district only on rare occasions, Caligiuri said. A Bartlett spokeswoman said while Bartlett does not have an official policy against donations from out-of-state, he feels that contributions should come from both within the state and within his Western Maryland district. “The congressman feels that members should seek their support from the areas they were elected to represent,” said Lisa Wright, the spokeswoman. “For that reason, he doesn’t seek out-of-state donations.”