Last week, Steve Schuh filed his campaign finance reports. Schuh, who is running as a Republican for Anne Arundel County Executive, has raised $1.25 million since January of 2011 and has $865,000 on hand.
Schuh announced his campaign in May 2013. On July 31, 2013, he sent a check for $100,000 to Scott Strategies in Annapolis.
Even in his voluminous, 96-page report this six-figure expenditure stood out (especially when you see the purpose of the expenditure was purportedly for “Graphic Design” while the remarks indicate that it was for “Event invitations, printing, postage, invitation design.. paid in full through July 31, 2013.”)
I had already heard Scott Strategies was consulting for the Schuh campaign and I will look forward to future Schuh finance reports to see if any other big numbers will be spent on consulting from Lawrence Scott’s firm or anyone else. This is especially important in light of some of Scott’s questionable tactics in the past.
MD GOP Insider has a list of some of Scott’s past clients. Additionally, there’s this from mdgopinsider:
Roscoe Bartlett and Dan Bongino in 2012, as well James Shalleck in 2010, have all learned the hard way the cost from Audrey Scott when they failed pay [sic] the “Scott Family Business.”
In a comment about referendum questions, Richard Cross said this about Lawrence Scott:
Second, you raised the issue of Question 7 and the “respected party leaders” from the “old school” who got it passed. Lawrence Scott, son of one of those “respected party leaders,” was paid by the pro-MGM forces, and his mother and Michael Steele may have been paid as well. Further, by supporting Question 7, these “party leaders” worked against the 37 state legislators who opposed it during the session and about half a dozen county central committees who advocated for its defeat. And, while supporting Question 7, these leaders freely spouted the same talking points being used by the Democrats. The leaders you reference were, in fact, nothing more than the best Republicans the bill’s Democratic advocates could buy.
Cross also talked about David Ferguson’s rumored ties to Scott:
Mooney is a hands-off manager, and some of Ferguson’s operational decisions – including planning and executing a Red White and Blue fundraising dinner which netted only $8,000 for the party, and his rumored alliance with controversial GOP political consultant Lawrence Scott – has drawn criticism among some central committee members.
Mark Newgent of Red Maryland also wrote about Lawrence Scott:
However, we can’t discuss shady Republican consultants without talking about one Lawrence Scott. Our colleague Greg Kline has chronicled Scott’s chicanery over the last several years.This past election, Scott worked on behalf of Democratic judicial candidate, David Densford. Densford defeated attorney Joe Stanalonis. Judicial elections are supposed to be non-partisan. However, for all intents and purposes the 7th Circuit Judicial race in St. Mary’s County, morphed into a partisan race.[…]
Indeed, during the race, Densford painted Stanalonis as a Republican (see page 16), and Stanalonis issued mailers highlighting Densford’s ties to O’Malley.Densford paid Scott’s consulting firm Scott Strategies, over $50,000 according to state campaign finance records. Densford’s campaign issued robocalls and mailers featuring another Scott client, St. Mary’s County Commissioner, Cynthia Jones, a Republican.
Last November, I wrote a piece pointing out that it might be ironic to use the name “Scott” and party unity in the same sentence. At the time there was an ultimately successful effort to make Audrey Scott the MDGOP chair with other candidates dropping out for the sake of party unity. I was the only one pointing out at the time that”Because as we have documented … her son Lawrence Scott is recognized as one of the most divisive forces within Maryland Republican politics. Mr. Scott is well know for his questionable tactics in his work for various Republican primary campaigns. Among these are assertions of false endorsements via robocall and misleading signs at polling places, allegations that he supported multiple candidates in the same primary and his misleading use of a fundraising entity (that ended up spending over eighty cents on every dollar for expenses and self promotion without giving a dime to GOP candidates, its expressed purpose). One senior MDGOP official told me he was a “purveyor of slash and burn politics”. Republican primary slash and burn politics by the wayTrue to form, Mr. Scott had kept up his “slash and burn ways” as documented by the Annapolis Capital’s Eric Hartley. Dubbing him a local “Prince of Darkness” Hartley states that:
“Such cookie-cutter negative campaigning works best when not exposed to the light of day, when you can’t see the guy pulling the strings. That’s why, like most political strategists, Scott prefers to work behind the scenes.”
Hartley concludes by saying:“Pulling up the rock and exposing someone like Scott to the sunlight is helpful, but he won’t be on the ballot Tuesday or in November. It’s his clients, the candidates, who should pay the price.”[…]“One opponent of a Scott client expressed fear of being sued or blacklisted by the Republican Party for speaking out. That fear has grown since Lawrence Scott’s mother, Audrey Scott, was named state GOP chairwoman last year.”
The Annapolis Republican Central Committee, of which I was formerly treasurer, was pitched in October by Doug Burkhardt to commit to a table at a fundraiser being held by a Political Action Committee (PAC) that had recently been formed. The officers of the PAC were Burkhardt: treasurer, and Lawrence Scott: chairman. Three republican state delegates: Nic Kipke, Steve Schuh, and James King, were on board with informal roles, as elected officials could not have formal roles in a PAC. At this October meeting, Mr. Burkhardt attested to having 25 donors at $5,000 each. As Greg reports in his podcast, this claim was repeated publicly on several occasions.In November, Delegates King and Schuh took the show to the Wednesday Republican Breakfast club, defending their decisions and their stake in the organization. However, many audience members had experienced first hand negative experiences with Scott and Burkhardt, and vehemently expressed their opposition. That sentiment was widespread, and in response the group was changed from a PAC to a ‘slate’, allowing the delegates to (reportedly) have more control of how the money is dispersed.This brings us to today (actually last week), when the campaign finance report for the group was released. Uh-oh. Lies, all lies! Despite claims from the group of $125,00–even $200,000– in donations, the total amount was only $67,322. That amount includes $5000 apiece from Delegates King and Schuh, but nothing from Delegate Kipke. What’s worse is the disbursements. The slate disbursed only 1 check, for $15,000, to Lawrence Scott‘s consulting business, covering “event location expenses and printing materials”.
Greg’s podcast is provides very poignant analysis. The worst fears of republican activists were realized: that large sums of money are being controlled by, and funneled through, Lawrence Scott. The slate’s main fundraiser, which took place two days before finance reports were due, featured President Reagan’s son Michael as the guest speaker. Yet, no entry was made for Mr. Reagan’s fee, which is probably in the $15,000-$20,000 range. Greg predicts that next year’s report will show a check for this fee, with a posting date just after this year’s reporting, so the slate wouldn’t have to disclose their true cash on hand, which Greg estimates to be in the low $30,000 range–a far cry from the bill of goods that was sold to many people over the past months. With such financial shortfalls, why would Delegate Kipke be exempted from ponying up his $5K? Perhaps in exchange for his role of spokesman, and the duty of misleading the public as to the group’s status.
The Citizens For Better Government PAC is not even registered as a Republican entity, which makes the delegates’ involvement all the more questionable, and risky for them. Delegate King remained steadfast, however, stating that such was merely an oversight and “this is obviously a Republican PAC”. When asked who will make the decisions of where the money goes, they responded “we will”. So they think. With Scott as chairman and Burkhardt as treasurer, the PAC can disperse money freely without the consent of the delegates; the delegates indeed cannot be named officers of the PAC because it would constitute a ‘slate’ and the money could only go to the slate’s candidates. Although they certainly cannot be naive to this process or to Lawrence Scott (he is an advisor to Schuh), Schuh and King seemed surprised at the group’s insistence that their fundraising abilities are being used to establish a slush fund for a campaign consultant.
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.