GOP mum on funds raised at dinner

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ANNAPOLIS — Financial results from the Maryland Republican Party’s largest annual fundraiser are a closely guarded secret, despite the ramifications for the party as it continues to rebuild after election losses last year.

The party’s annual fundraiser — the Red, White and Blue Dinner — raised about $100,000 earlier this month, about one-third what party leaders hoped to raise, said a half-dozen sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The sources said that only party Chairman James Pelura III and Executive Director John Flynn know the amount and that even members of the party’s executive board have not seen the results.

“I have no clue of an exact figure,” said Chris Cavey, a Maryland Republican Party vice chairman and member of the party’s executive board. “I think we could have done better, but I don’t consider the [dinner] a failure. It was an excellent program.”

Mr. Flynn and party Treasurer Robert C. “Chris” Rosenthal did not return calls for comment.

The party stated in a newsletter that roughly 300 people attended the dinner but did not say how much money was raised.

Mr. Cavey said members are preparing for an executive board meeting at the end of the month in which they expect Mr. Pelura to officially announce the amount raised and that the party has repaid a line of credit.

The state party in April opened a $100,000 credit line to pay for daily operating costs, which resulted in a mostly behind-the-scenes debate among leaders about how the party should be run.

“You can’t blame the income side of the ledger on any one person,” said Don Murphy, a former Republican delegate who now leads the Maryland organizing efforts of Sen. John McCain, the Arizonan seeking the Republican presidential nomination. “On the expense side, you can’t spend money you don’t have, and somebody should have realized you don’t have any money.”

Republicans lost the fundraising power that comes with controlling the governor’s office after Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. lost his re-election bid in November.

Last year’s Red, White and Blue Dinner grossed more than $1 million.

The party has since continued to have a large staff, which has drawn criticism from Republicans who say the party needs to cut spending after losing the governor’s office.

Corey Stottlemyer, the state party’s political director, left last week, but many lamented the loss of a veteran political organizer.

“Corey was really the brain trust there, he clearly has a record of accomplishment,” Mr. Murphy said. “Corey leaving is very unfortunate, but he has greener pastures to go to.” Mr. Stottlemyer was not available for comment.

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