Hey Big Spender: Margolies burns through campaign cash

    When Marjorie Margolies lost her Montgomery County Congressional seat 20 years ago, it was because she’ cast a tough budget vote and was attacked by Republicans as a tax-and-spend liberal.

    As she runs to regain the seat next year, she may be called a fundraise-and-spend candidate.

    The four announced Democratic candidates to succeed U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz filed their campaign finance reports for the 3rd quarter of 2013 last week, and Margolies led the pack, raising $237,000.

    But the number that jumps off the page when you look at the reports is how much Margolies campaign spent six months before the campaign even gets underway.

    Her competitors put out between $68,000 and $99,000 on campaign expenses from July through September, but Margolies spent a whopping $205,279, which is 86 percent of the cash she raised in the period.

    What did she spent it on? In a word, consultants.

    You can see the candidates’ reports at the Federal Election Commission’s website, www.fec.gov., or look at this handy spreadsheet I assembled and see the nine consultants who tapped Margolies’ campaign for a total of $159,460.

    When I contacted Margolies’ campaign for an explanation, communications consultant Ken Smukler explained that Margolies’ poll numbers are great and that her spending on fundraising is only 20 to 25 percent of funds raised, “by no means out of line for a campaign like this.” He also said the other candidates don’t yet have the kind of campaign cash they’ll need to overcome Margolies’ poll numbers, and he suggested that the efforts of two candidates, State Sen. Daylin Leach, and State Rep. Brendan Boyle, benefit from the work of their taxpayer-funded legislative staffs, though he didn’t allege anything illegal.

     Smukler certainly ought to have plenty to say. His firm, Black Blue Media is the biggest earner on Margolies’ list of consultants, taking in $40,000 in just the three months covered by the most recent filings. Smukler also owns Info Voter Technologies, which earned $19,500 for research and polling services.

    You can see all the candidates’ fundraising totals for the quarter and their case on hand here.

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