With the deadline for reporting campaign fundraising from January through March 2019 passed, campaign finance reports show former Republican Party of Virginia Chairman and Leesburg attorney John Whitbeck far outraising all other candidates for county Board of Supervisors, buoyed by big donors from outside Loudoun.
Whitbeck attracted donations averaging more than $1,000, and brought in more than $200,000, almost half of which came from outside Loudoun.
Campaign finance reports listed 159 donations averaging $1,263. The four largest contributors gave $25,000 each, including FCi Federal founder Sharon Virts; Holtzman Oil Corp. owner William Holtzman of Mt. Jackson, Virginia near New Market; Leesburg-based political action committee Loudoun First and Alexandria-based political action committee Conservatives for Effective Government. Former White House Chief of Staff and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also donated $1,000.
Of Whitbeck’s 121 unique donors giving more than $100, 38 did not list a home or work address in Loudoun. Those donors contributed $101,925—nearly half of the Whitbeck campaign’s donations in the first quarter of 2019. In total, the campaign saw $210,021 in donations. Donations amounting to $100 or less are not individually reported.
Whitbeck has also loaned his own campaign $33,100. Combined with $9,248 of in-kind services, including $1,600 in web services and office space from Whitbeck’s own law firm, the campaign raised $243,1201 in the last quarter, reporting a balance of $211,665.
According to the Whitbeck campaign, that breaks the record for most cash on hand by any candidate for Loudoun County chairman and out-raises even candidates for the state legislature.
“The people of Loudoun are ready for a Chair with a clear vision for fighting traffic and tolls, school safety, low taxes, strategic growth, and preservation,” Whitbeck stated. “I will continue to work tirelessly to earn the trust of Loudoun’s voters.” His campaign manager, Tyler Spencer, said the campaign has seen “grassroots support.”
Even without out-of-town fundraising, Whitbeck led the pack on fundraising totals. Whitbeck’s target, incumbent Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) raised $32,484 from 160 contributions, ending with $72,292. That puts her average contribution at $203.
In response to Whitbeck’s fundraising, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee on Wednesday announced the “Blue Loudoun Defense Fund” “to help push back against the flood of GOP money coming into Loudoun.”
Incumbent Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) attracted 241 donations, bringing in $40,142 and ending the reporting period with $161,813 in the bank. Her challenger, Juli Ellyn Briskman (D), reported 344 donations—292 of which were less than $100—and raised $24,563, ending with $38,187.
Ashburn District Republican candidate Rich McMunn raised $7,050 from nine donations, including a $5,000 loan to his own campaign, ending the reporting period with $4,826. McMunn announced his entry into the race in March, the last month of the reporting period.
His opponent, Democrat Mike Turner, raised $7,962 from 25 donations and loaned his campaign a net of $3,761. He reported $38,397 cash on hand.
Incumbent Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) raised $47,280 from only 68 donations, an average contribution of $695. His campaign ended the quarter with $42,210 on hand.
His challenger, Democrat Tia Walbridge, brought in $28,094 from 285 donations, an average of $99, finishing with $49,676 cash on hand.
The campaign said those numbers show Blue Ridge is “the race to watch.”
“It’s clear that western Loudoun is ready for a thoughtful, proactive leader who works hard, sticks to her principles, and stands up for residents’ interests even when no one is watching,” Walbridge stated. “They want a leader they can trust to preserve the balance that makes our county such a special place to call home.”
Buffington’s primary challenger, Florian Hauswiesner, reported $1,081 in fundraising, all in the form of in-kind donations from his own law firm. Those were reported on March 16. The campaign has no reported money.
Broad Run Republican candidate and former Loudoun County Republican Committee James G. Bonfils reported $7,425 raised from 18 contributions. That includes eight cash contributions totaling $6,575, four of which were from Bonfils himself for a total of $5,275 given to his own campaign. Bonfils’s first contributions were in March.
His opponent, Democrat Sylvia Glass, reported $12,442 in fundraising, including $8,442 from 96 donations, 64 of which were $100 or less, and a $4,000 loan to her own campaign. Her campaign closed the quarter with $14,216 on hand.
Catoctin District Republic candidate Caleb A. Kershner brought in $7,230, including $4,230 from 11 donations and a $3,000 loan to his own campaign, and finished the quarter with $7,159 in the bank. His first contributions were in March.
The Democrat, Forest Hayes, raised $25,104 from 72 donations, although 27 of those donations were Hayes or his wife making donations totaling $1,960. Another three are campaign manager Ahmad Shawwal donating one dollar each time. Hayes reported 39 unique donors.
The independent candidate, Sam Kroiz, only started his campaign near the end of March. He raised $2,057 from two donations and a $2,000 loan to his own campaign, ending the quarter with $2,035.
Incumbent Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) brought in $13,724 from 46 donations, ending the quarter with $27,874 on hand. One person, Sreedhar NagiReddi, has filed paperwork to run against him but has reported no fundraising.
Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) so far faces no challengers for her seat on the county Board of Supervisors. Nonetheless, her campaign committee reported $5,000 raised from three donations, with $11,262 on hand.
Incumbent Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) raised $16,859 from 65 donations, ending the quarter with $16,772 on hand. His primary challenger, Ibrahim Moiz, raised $53,228 from 60 donations, although one of those was a $38,567 transfer to zero out his now-shuttered campaign for School Board. He finished the quarter with $49,310 on hand.
One Republican, Stephen Grant, has filed paperwork to run, but has reported no fundraising.
Republicans generally saw fewer donors, but those donors gave much more money.
Many candidates also saw low numbers at least in part because they began fundraising partway through the quarterly reporting period, putting them at a disadvantage to other candidates who had already begun campaigning and entered the new year with established cash on hand.
Democrats in the area count among their supporters Joan Kowalski, owner and co-founder of the Bob Ross Company in Sterling. Kowalski was Ross’s longtime business partner and instrumental in bringing the iconic painter and host of The Joy of Painting to television. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, she has donated $47,665 to Democratic campaigns ranging from Ralph Northam’s run for governor—to which she contributed $13,500—to campaigns for the local Board of Supervisors and the Leesburg Town Council.
The finance reports also highlight some confusion among campaign staff about the state’s campaign finance reporting rules. In tallying their totals, some campaigns are reporting the total number of contributions; others are reporting the total number of unique contributors, who may have made more than one donation. The state Board of Election’s instructions direct campaigns to “enter the total number of contributors itemized… and the total dollar amount of itemized contributions received this period.”
The state does not require candidates to itemize contributions from donors who have given less than $100 cumulatively, instead reporting those donations as a lump sum.