Harold Painter, above, is running for Congress in the 6th District’s Republican primary against Dan Bongino. At first, it appeared he missed a FEC deadline on April 15 for the first quarter but now it appears it was just a case of little or no fundraising or expenditures. I’ll get to that in a bit.
First, a recap of how little is known about Painter. As I noted previously (and first), Painter had given money in the past to Democrats at both the state and federal level, including former Senator Chuck Robb in Virginia. His other contribution, at the state level, was to a former Charles County commissioner who has since been appointed twice to other posts by Gov. Martin O’Malley and is running for office now. Painter was recently endorsed over Bongino by The Gazette, even though that paper undermined their endorsement by calling him a “weak” candidate when it comes to the issues.
Here’s what Brian Griffiths said about Painter in light of the endorsement:
The insanity of The Gazette endorsement is even more profound when you realize that Harold Painter is just some guy that no Republican activist I have met seems to know. He has no website. No Twitter presence. No Facebook presence. No record of activism in the Republican Party. The one donation he has made in Maryland Politics was to a Democrat, former Charles County Commissioner and current Maryland Higher Education Commission Member Edith Patterson, who is running for Delegate this election as a Democrat.
Last week, I followed up on the FEC website to see if Painter had made a quarterly filing for the period ending April 15. He had not. His last filing was his amended statement of candidacy filed on 1/14 after he filed an incomplete one on 12/31. I emailed both the FEC and Painter and asked for comment.
The FEC responded in short order (on May 5) and noted that candidates don’t need to file a report until they raise or spend $5,000. I figured Painter’s lack of fundraising might be to blame, but the fact that he’s been totally under the radar thus far has raised a lot of questions. Painter emailed me back on May 9 and told me had just returned from his post-Tax Day vacation (he’s a CPA) and that he is supposed to file on May 15 and would be doing so.
I followed up with the FEC following his response and was told that Painter would have had to file by April 15 if he had spent or raised $5000 by the end of March. The FEC spokesperson also told me that the next filing deadline for Maryland congressional candidates is June 12 (12 days before the primary.) The FEC spokesperson had no knowledge of a May 15 deadline.
Painter replied to a follow-up still asserting his deadline was the May 15 one, despite me pointing out the FEC had no knowledge of what he was talking about. If Painter were to raise or spend his first $5,000 (in total campaign activity) by 6/4 he would need to file on the 6/12 pre-primary filing deadline
Painter did tell me that prior to April 15, he had no time for campaigning due to his work as an accountant. During that time he said he only spent $100 for his “entry [filing] fee” and money for stamps. After April 15, he said that he spent around $3,500 in the second half of April. He made no mention of any fundraising activity and says he is self-financed. I do know that he has done direct mail in Allegany County and his website is apparently coming soon. Assuming all of the facts check out and he hasn’t spent or raised $5,000 yet, Painter will likely need to file by June 12.
Painter, an Allegany County native, did say he is running because he is upset with the gerrymandering that caused Western Maryland to lose its voice in Congress. He says he has no experience in politics and is running his own campaign. That would seem to answer the concerns that Painter might be a stealth candidate who was put up to running. However, if anything changes in that regard, I will be on top of it.
One thing that is clear: Harold Painter is not a serious or credible candidate in the primary. The fact that he couldn’t campaign before April 15 is understandable with his profession, even though it isn’t preferable. However, going on an extended vacation after Tax Day and not returning until last week shows a lack of committment to even trying to make an impact in the race. Throw in the fact that he disputes facts I was told by the FEC when I ask him about filing deadlines, and you can go ahead and write off any change he has of making an impact.
I wish Mr. Painter the best of luck, and, if they’re sincere, his sentiments about why he’s running show someone who is running with the best of intentions. At this point it doesn’t appear anyone else is behind his campaign. It would appear the editors of The Gazette committed a serious case of journalistic malpractice in endorsing Harold Painter and I wonder if there’s some sort of grudge against Dan Bongino by their editorial board.
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.