Mark Epstein said he has no idea how the super PAC Maryland USA will use the money he’s been donating for more than a year.
“When I send the money, it goes over the transom,” the former Qualcomm executive said in an interview last month. “That’s the last I see of it.”
Maryland USA is supporting just one candidate in 2016: Epstein’s wife, Republican Amie Hoeber. She is challenging two-term incumbent Rep. John Delaney (D) in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which stretches from Potomac in Montgomery County through western Maryland to the West Virginia border.
New campaign finance reports filed over the weekend show Epstein dropped $1.4 million into Maryland USA in the third quarter, bringing his total donations over the past year to $3.8 million.
Federal law limits donations to candidate committees — except by the candidates themselves. But super PACs working for or against candidates can accept unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations or unions. Maryland USA has spent the money on digital and television ads, direct mail, polling and consulting services on Hoeber’s behalf.
The law also bars any communication or coordination between a super PAC and a candidate committee. The Delaney campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last month contending that Epstein and Hoeber have made a hash of the rules. The couple said they’ve had their arrangements vetted by legal counsel.
Hoeber, a defense consultant and former deputy undersecretary of the Army in the Reagan administration, has made $565,000 in personal loans or contributions, part of the $865,000 the campaign has spent through Sept. 30. Her committee has $36,000 cash on hand, according to the report.
Delaney’s numbers are relatively small in comparison to the Hoeber-Maryland USA effort. He has raised $1.4 million and spent $1.2 million through last month. But he’s one of the wealthiest members of Congress with a history of spending his own money if the need arises.
Delaney also has heavy support from traditional PACs, which can donate up to $5,000 per election to a candidate committee. About half of Delaney’s $1.4 million is PAC money, much of it from banking, insurance and other businesses. He sits on the House Committee on Financial Services.
In the neighboring 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Montgomery, Frederick and Carroll counties, Democratic state Sen. Jamie Raskin enjoys a huge financial advantage over Republican Dan Cox. Raskin raised $195,000 in the third quarter, part of $2.3 million he has collected over the entire campaign. He has $265,000 in cash on hand.
Cox, an Emmitsburg attorney, raised $16,500 in the third quarter and loaned his campaign $14,000. He has raised $61,000 since the start of the campaign and has $26,700 cash on hand.