Though he is relying on public funds for the general election, Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan has continued to raise money, including at an event Friday in Ocean City, to retire debt incurred during the primary.
Shortly after his June 24 victory, Hogan’s campaign reported having $742,338 in outstanding loans and unpaid bills but only $128,004 in the bank. The largest chunk of the debt was $500,000 in loans that Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, made to his campaign between February and May.
In recent weeks, Hogan has advertised four fundraisers on Facebook to help retire the primary debt, including one Friday night at Ocean City Brewing Company. Donors were promised “free tasting of original brews” in exchange for $50 contributions.
Both Hogan and his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, were in Ocean City on Friday and Saturday for events associated with the annual summer conference of the Maryland Association of Counties, including a candidates’ forum.
The fine print on the invitation to Hogan’s Friday night fundraiser — held after a crab feast where both he and Brown worked the crowd — said donations would be “used to pay expenses incurred during the primary.” The same notice appeared on invitations to three other events that Hogan’s campaign advertised on Facebook.
Donors who visit Hogan’s Web site are also directed to a form notifying them that money will be used to retire primary debt.
A Hogan spokesman did not return a call Monday morning regarding his fundraising.
For the fall election, Hogan is participating in the state’s public financing system and has been given a grant of about $2.6 million. His campaign has agreed not to spend any more than that on the November election.
Hogan is also allowed to help the Maryland Republican Party raise money to promote the GOP ticket. It is has set up a separate “Hogan Victory Fund” for that purpose.
Brown is not participating in the public financing system, and his campaign is free to spend as much as it can raise. Brown spent about $9 million this year on the primary, outpacing all candidates in both parties.
The public will get a fresh glimpse at Brown’s fundraising by next week, when new campaign finance reports are due to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Besides the personal loans, Hogan’s primary debt also included $46,166 in promised payments to Change Maryland, the watchdog organization that Hogan founded in 2011. Hogan’s campaign previously announced that it bought out the assets of the group, including its Facebook page and mailing list. Hogan is the organization’s sole owner, according to election officials.