Mark Epstein, a telecommunications executive married to District 6 Republican congressional nominee Amie Hoeber, in recent weeks has made a total of $1.2 million in contributions to two “Super PACs” promoting Hoeber’s campaign, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Added to prior such donations by Epstein, he so far has given a total of $1.6 million during the current election cycle to the two groups. The disclosure comes just days after reports filed by the personal campaign committee of Hoeber’s Democratic opponent, David Trone, reported that Trone—co-owner of a nationwide retailer of alcohol beverages—had either contributed or loaned $16 million in personal assets to his bid for the seat being relinquished by U.S. Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat.
Two filings with the FEC over the past four days show Epstein contributing a total of $700,000 between Sept. 11 and Oct. 9 to the Defending Main Street SuperPAC, which describes its role as helping to elect Republican members of Congress in swing or “purple” districts.
In addition, a report filed Saturday by the Value In Electing Women (VIEW PAC)—which focuses on the election of Republican female candidates—showed Epstein making a total of $500,000 in contributions in September to that group. On top of $400,000 donated earlier this year, this brings Epstein’s total contributions to VIEW PAC to $900,000 during the current election cycle.
In contrast to the legal restrictions placed on personal campaign committees—which cannot accept more than $5,400 per election cycle from an individual other than the candidate himself or herself—Super PACs are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals as well as corporations and labor unions. But they are barred by federal law from coordinating their efforts with a candidate’s personal committee.
In 2016, when Hoeber unsuccessfully sought to oust Delaney, Epstein contributed a total of $3.8 million to another Super PAC, Maryland USA, which spent that money in an effort to boost her candidacy. Maryland USA has been inactive during the 2017-2018 election cycle.
To date, the two Super PACs to which Epstein has donated this year have expended nearly $1.25 million to boost Hoeber’s candidacy, with close to $800,000 of this coming from VIEW PAC. Another $450,000 has been spent by the Defending Main Street Super PAC, including $140,000 for mailings critical of Trone’s candidacy.
Hoeber, who reported only $133,000 in her personal committee’s campaign treasury as of Oct. 1—compared to the $3 million Trone had on hand—has sought to make an issue of her rival’s level of spending. “Is there no limit to how much money David Trone will spend or how low he will go to buy a seat in Congress?” Hoeber declared in a press release this past week.
The two candidates have gone on TV in the Washington, D.C., and Hagerstown markets with ads sniping at each other in advance of their first and only face-to-face debates—this Tuesday in Gaithersburg and the following day in Hagerstown.
The 200 mile-wide 6th District extends from Potomac and Gaithersburg to the western edge of the Maryland panhandle, with about half of its voters residing in Montgomery County. Hoeber, a national security consultant, and Trone are Potomac residents, although both reside just outside the 6th District in the neighboring 8th District.
In an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in District 8 two years ago, Trone set a national record for a self-funding U.S. House candidate when he spent $13.4 million of his own assets. The $16 million that he has personally contributed in this year’s primary and general election, combined with the $725,000 raised by Hoeber’s personal campaign committee and the $1.6 million in Super PAC contributions by Epstein, put total spending in the District 6 race on track to well exceed $18 million with Election Day a little more than two weeks away.