CHARLES TOWN – Conservative Alex X. Mooney notes on his website the “continued momentum” for his campaign for Congress, and the fact that he’s raised more money than his fellow Republicans combined.
But what Mooney doesn’t tout is how little of his campaign income is coming from West Virginia donors.
Mooney, who resigned as Maryland GOP chairman early last year and now lives in Charles Town, raised more than $164,000 in the first quarter of 2014, a period that ended March 31. Since launching his run last June, Mooney has raised more than $562,000 overall.
The bulk of Mooney’s donations come from out-of-state Political Action Committees and donors. In the first quarter of 2014, Mooney reported more than 179 separate donations to the Federal Election Commission, but just seven of those came from West Virginia residents.
The West Virginians’ donations totaled $10,826 – 2.3 percent of the money he raised from individual itemized donors.
In contrast, Mooney’s campaign recorded $117,581 in donations from donors living in Maryland – 17.8 percent of his total first-quarter take.
Maryland wasn’t the only state where Mooney found a helping hand. For the first-quarter of 2014, Mooney raised more from each of five other states – as well as D.C. –than he did in West Virginia.
After Maryland, Virginia gave Mooney’s campaign the most money with $85,174; Florida was third with $67,700, then California ($50,385), Texas ($27,550), Washington, D.C. ($22,938) and Massachusetts ($14,500).
Mooney’s critics have noted the origins of his fundraising dollars. “A number of Republican elected officials in Maryland are transferring money from their state campaign accounts to Alex Mooney’s congressional campaign account in West Virginia,” Maryland Young Republicans chairman Brian Griffiths wrote in a January opinion piece for the Baltimore Sun. “This comes on the heels of earlier fundraisers Mooney held in Potomac and Timonium featuring former Governor Bob Ehrlich and Congresman Andy Harris respectively.
“Mooney is so dependent on Maryland fundraising because relatively few donors on his most detailed donor report are actually from West Virginia,” Griffiths wrote.
Republican Shelley Moore Capito announced in November of 2012 that she’d seek the Senate seat held since 1985 by Democrat Jay Rockefeller. Rockefeller opted not to seek re-election.
Political insiders have pointed that the West Virginia seat offers Mooney an easier path to Congress than he’d find in other states. Since her election to the seat in 2000, Capito has coasted to re-election in recent years.
Members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually.
Charleston lawyer Charlotte Lane and five men are vying with Mooney for the Republican nomination. While Mooney has attracted far more campaign donations, the others have raised more of their money from inside West Virginia.
According to her campaign finance filing for the first quarter of 2014, Lane raised $38,500 in itemized individual contributions, with $6,650 of that coming from out of state.
Most of Lane’s out-of-state donations came from coal company executives living in Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia and Kentucky. Harold Quinn Jr., president and CEO of the National Mining Association, who lives Kensington, Md., donated $500.
Lane is a West Virginia native who has served in the House of Delegates from Kanawha County and spent eight years on the U.S International Trade Commission after being appointed by President George W. Bush.
Ken Reed, a pharmacist in Berkeley Springs, reported raising $12,775 in the first quarter of 2014, including $9,800 from outside West Virginia. Most of his out-of-state money came donors who listed “pharmacist” as their occupation.
Ron Walters Jr., a financial analyst who lives in Kanawha County, in the first quarter of 2014 took in $4,069 in individual itemized contributions, with all but $250 of that coming from in the state. He had a $250 donation from a resident of Orchard Park, N.Y.
Stephen Harrison reported raising $7,700 in the first quarter of this year, all of it from inside West Virginia.
Two other Republicans whose names appear on the ballot, Jim Moss of Hurricane in Putnam County and Robert Lawrence Fluharty of Charles Town, haven’t filed any reports with the FEC, not even the required statement of organization. Candidates must file financial reports if they raise or spend at least $5,000.
The two Democrats in the race, former state party chairman Nick Casey and Kanawha County Delegate Meshea Poore, have raised far less than Mooney.
In the first quarter of 2014, Casey reported individual itemized donations of $109,165, with $17,450 coming from outside West Virginia. Poore’s total for that period was $7,500, with $1,500 of that from out of state.
Mooney resigned from his post in Maryland in February of last year after a dozen years of working in the state where he grew up.
On his website, Mooney describes living in Charles Town with his wife, Grace, and children, but it’s unclear when the candidate settled here.
Mooney began raising money for the campaign in late June of last year. His first FEC report lists a Falling Waters address. Later, his campaign lists a post office in Martinsburg as its address.
Mooney first ran for office in New Hampshire when he was a student at Dartmouth College. From 1993 to 1995, he worked on the staff of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the conservative Maryland lawmaker who served until losing in 2012.
In 1998, Mooney benefited from out-of-state donations as he knocked off well-established Frederick County incumbent Republican state Sen. John Derr in the primary. Thinking Derr would again cruise to another term, Democrats hadn’t bothered to field a strong candidate and Mooney easily won that November.
Mooney lost his seat in 2010, defeated by former Frederick Mayor Ron Young. He then became chairman of the Maryland Republican party.
On June 5, 2013, when Mooney filed a statement of organization with the FEC for his Mooney for Congress campaign committee, the organization’s address is listed as 151 Camelot Blvd. in Falling Waters. On Jan. 20, he filed another statement of organization with a post office box in Martinsburg as the address.
Donors must be itemized on campaign finance report if they contribute $200 or more, in aggregate.