News & Politics

Mayoral Money Goes to Campaign Consultants

Fenty and Gray show different strategies when it comes to hiring advisers

Mayor Adrian Fenty and City Council Chairman Vincent Gray are running campaigns rooted in their different styles, priorities, and personal histories. But as they head into the summer season of the race, their June 10 campaign finance filings also reveal that they’ve made different decisions when it comes to spending their campaign war chests.

Between March 11 and June 10, Mayor Fenty’s campaign spent $336,436.42. Of that, $179,795,or 53 percent of the campaign’s spending, went to 17 different individual consultants or consulting firms. The biggest recipients of the campaign’s largesse were John Falcicchio, the fundraiser who joined Fenty’s team during his 2003 council re-election and who helped Fenty net $3.8 million during his first run for Mayor, who made $31,000 spread across three payments during the reporting period; LSG Strategies, which made $20,000 in those three months; and the DMP Group, which made $17,170 from the campaign during the same time. Fenty’s campaign also paid $10,000 to Catalist, an organization that provides a national voter database which it markets to progressive candidates.

Challenger Gray spent less than Fenty during the reporting period, shelling out $190,134.27 between March and June. And his campaign spent far less on consultants, paying out $28,071.50 to 12 consultants or consulting firms, just 15 percent of the total spending. The top recipient of Gray’s consultant spending was on the firm Grand Strategies, which earned $9,650 from the mayoral hopeful over the course of the reporting period; Traci Hughes, Gray’s campaign spokeswoman and former communications director for the D.C police department, who received $7,500; and the firm HillTop Communications, which made $3,750. Unlike Fenty, Gray made payments of less than $1,000 to a number of minor consultants.

Mayor Fenty can obviously afford to spend more money, no matter what he chooses to spend it on, than Chairman Gray can. Fenty ended the filing period with $3.2 million in his campaign account, compared with Gray’s $371,208.59. And unlike Gray, Fenty hasn’t loaned any money to his own campaign. Gray’s put $25,000 of his own money into the race, which may make him consider more carefully how he spends it. But it’s worth considering the value each man is getting for his money. Falcicchio’s salary may be fair given Fenty’s fundraising edge. But it remains to be seen if those 16 other consultants and firms end up giving the Mayor a clear and consistent message and a sure path victory, particularly after the results in this weekend’s District of Columbia Democratic Party straw poll.

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