A Ridiculously Deep Dive Into Molly Gray’s Money Pit

More signs of flailing from Lt. Gov. Molly Gray’s campaign for Congress. She’s now attempting the astounding feat of presenting herself as simultaneously (1) a paragon of Vermont values and (2) a Washington insider.

I dunno. Simone Biles might balk at that bit of gymnastics.

Gray’s last pre-primary (read: last) campaign ad leans heavily on her ties to Sen. Patrick Leahy, prominently featured, and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who is named but not shown. Maybe Welch is being more judicious than his Senate colleagues and staying out of the primary. Or maybe, just maybe, he prefers Gray’s opponent?

But that’s not why I called you here on this muggy day. My purpose is to look at a couple of issues with Gray’s fundraising. The first is the portion of her war chest (obligatory “war chest” reference) that she can’t spend before the primary. The second is how much money this living embodiment of Vermont values has raised from inside the Beltway.

Hint: It’s a lot.

Point one. As you may know, individuals can donate a maximum of $2,900 to federal candidates per election. But they can double dip by donating $2,900 each for a primary and $2,900 for the general election. The catch? The candidate can’t spend the second $2,900 until after the primary.

Gray has raised more of this cached cash throughout the campaign. As of April 15 she had raised $53,850 in general election funds, while Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint had raised only $15,550 reserved for the general.

Here’s the update: From Day One through July 20, Gray raised $84,195 she can’t spend until after August 9, when she may have nothing to run for. Balint? $29,687.

This has a measurable impact on the all-important “cash on hand” figures for both. Gray had a big edge on Balint in raw COH, $293,155 to $126,622. When you subtract the general-only money from the cash-on-hand totals, you get a closer contest: Gray $208,960, Balint $96,935. Gray still had a substantial edge, but not quite as big as it appeared.

Balint has raised a bit more than Gray, but she’s spent far more. Which, I think, is the appropriate strategy. The primary winner is going to win in November even if they have to scramble a bit for cash. I say Gray has been too sparing with her money. As of July 20, she had left almost 30% of her campaign funds unspent. That’s a lot of ad buys, staff time, mailings, and yard signs that Gray has left on the table.

Now we turn to Gray’s assiduous cultivation of her Beltway connections.

Back in May, Seven Days’ Sasha Goldstein looked at the issue, and found that as of March 31, Gray had raised “nearly $100,000” (I got $96,054) from Beltway denizens*. In all, she’d raised 31% of her campaign kitty from the D.C. area.

*D.C. residents plus those from nearby suburbs like Chevy Chase, MD and Arlington, VA.

Gray has continued to draw large quantities of money from the D.C. area, but it represents a smaller portion of her total. As of July 20, she’d raised $181,445 from 354 donors who live inside the Beltway. That’s “only” 17% of Gray’s total fundraising. But that’s still quite a lot.

Throughout, her donor list has been littered with D.C. movers and shakers: prominent lobbyists, corporate types, consultants, strategists, and partners at big law firms. There were some small donors, too — students, retirees, and several staffers at Moksha Aesthetics, a Potomac, MD “med spa” that does “non-surgical” facelifts and butt lifts (their words, not mine), Botox treatments, “body contouring,” and a treatment called Morpheus8, “a minimally invasive cosmetic microneedling treatment for total skin rejuvenation.”

Cool.

As I’ve written before, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Gray taking advantage of her D.C. connections. Campaigns cost money and you have to raise it where you can. Gray has connections in Washington, D.C.; Balint has had the mailbox-stuffing support of LGBTQ+ and progressive PACs;

Both are fair game. But Gray has attacked Balint throughout the campaign for benefiting from outside support while doing so herself. She’s trying to have it both ways.

Kind of like her recently-refurbished bio that posits her simultaneously as the farm girl and the D.C. insider.

1 thought on “A Ridiculously Deep Dive Into Molly Gray’s Money Pit

  1. Walter Carpenter

    “As I’ve written before, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Gray taking advantage of her D.C. connections.”

    If Gray wins it next week, you know who she’s going to care about more and it ain’t us. Follow the money.

    Reply

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