Businessman and District 8 Democratic congressional candidate David Trone took shots at his two leading competitors—state Sen. Jamie Raskin and former news broadcaster Kathleen Matthews—in a TV ad that criticized them for accepting money from lobbyists and other special interests.

The ad, which aired during the Wednesday night TV broadcast of the Washington Capitals playoff game against the Philadelphia Flyers, featured video-recorded comments from Raskin saying he would not take money from limited liability corporations (LLCs), PACs or lobbyists. In another recording included in the ad, Matthews says the Citizens United Supreme Court decision “gives too much power to big money.” After each recording, the ad shows a scrolling list of lobbyists and organizations that the Trone campaign says donated to Raskin and Matthews.

Raskin and Matthews fired back Thursday, saying Trone is misleading voters.

Marshall Cohen, Raskin’s campaign manager, said in a press release that Raskin donors listed in Trone’s ad include groups such as Democracy for America, the Electrical Workers Union and the Machinists Union. He said their contributions make up a small part of the $1.9 million Raskin has raised during his campaign. Raskin’s campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission shows $99,300 in contributions from PACs, other elected officials’ campaigns and union organizations—funds not provided by individuals.

“The irony is that this frivolous, but expensive attack ad comes from someone who has spent more than $1.4 million on lobbyists to ‘buy access’ for his liquor corporation and has become a symbol of plutocratic ambition run wild by already spending more personal money in a U.S. House race than any other person in American history,” Cohen said in a statement.

Trone is the co-founder of Total Wine & More, the largest U.S. independent retailer of fine wine, and so far has self-funded his campaign with more than $12 million, the highest sum ever spent in a U.S. House race. Trone has publicized his campaign in dozens of radio, TV and internet ads in which he says he will not accept any contributions from PACs, lobbyists or big-money donors.


Raskin said in the press release that he has run a positive campaign for the past year and is “disappointed about this 11th-hour desperation attack TV ad.”

The Matthews campaign also criticized the ad.

“David Trone’s the last person on earth who should attack Kathleen or anyone else on ethics,” Ethan Susseles, Matthews’ campaign manager, said. “He built his fortune by spending millions on lobbyists and buying political access. Now he’s spending millions trying to buy a congressional seat like it’s a fine bottle of wine. It won’t fly in this district.”


Matthews reported to the Federal Election Commission that she has raised $2.5 million in her bid for the congressional seat, including self-funding of $500,000 and $185,100 in funds from PACs and other elected officials’ campaigns that were categorized as committee contributions.

The Trone ad lists The Home Depot Inc. PAC and Real Estate Roundtable PAC as $5,000 contributors to Matthews, among other donors the ad identifies as PACs and lobbyists.

The Trone campaign released the ad to its YouTube account Thursday afternoon and said it stands by the information it presents.


“The facts presented in the ad are indisputable, and no one is arguing them,” Trone campaign spokeswoman Mary Werden said in an email to Bethesda Beat. “Senator Raskin claims he doesn’t take money from LLCs or people who lobby him. But he has. Ms. Matthews decries the corrupting power of big money in politics, but has taken it by the truck load.”

Werden described the responses from the campaigns of Trone’s leading competitors as “over-the-top.”

Update – 10:45 a.m., Friday – Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett weighs in: