Trump-endorsed Max Miller's congressional campaign is largely self-funded, campaign finance reports show

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WASHINGTON, D. C. – Former White House aide Max Miller emailed his supporters last week to boast that his congressional campaign, which former President Donald Trump endorsed before incumbent Anthony Gonzalez announced his retirement, had raised more than $710,000 in the quarter that ended September 30.

© John Kuntz/cleveland.com Candidate for US congress Max Miller (R) makes remarks next to former President Donald Trump during a rally at the Lorain County Fairgrounds, June 26, 2021, in Wellington.

“This quarter we raised over $710,000, our biggest quarter yet,” said his October 9 email. “It’s because of you that RINO Anthony Gonzalez dropped out of the race and we have the momentum and support to win.”

Miller’s email didn’t mention that the bulk of that money came from a $500,000 loan that Miller made to his campaign on September 28. A Federal Election Commission report that Miller’s campaign filed on Friday indicates that $550,000 of the roughly $1 million that Miller has raised since announcing his candidacy in February has come from his own pocket.

The report shows that Miller raised around $192,000 in the quarter from donors who weren’t himself, spent slightly more than $246,000, and ended up with around $982,00 in the bank. Most of the individual donors on his report listed out-of-state addresses. The Trump-affiliated “Save America” political action committee (PAC) gave Miller’s campaign $5,000, and the conservative Madison Project PAC gave $10,000.

Miller’s campaign spent more than $55,000 on digital marketing, more than $39,000 on digital consulting, and more than $17,000 on printing.

Gonzalez announced his retirement on September 16 amid GOP backlash over his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump after the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. Before doing so, Gonzalez raised more than $144,000 in the quarter, his FEC report shows. His campaign spent slightly more than $400,000 in the quarter and had nearly $1,258,000 in the bank. His donors included former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr., who gave $5,800. Six officials from the KKR investment firm, including billionaire Henry Kravis and former Republican National Committee Chair Kenneth Mehlman, gave him $2,900 each. He collected almost $25,000 from a joint fundraiser with U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, whom Trump has also targeted for defeat for voting to impeach him.

Gonzalez’s report shows he spent $25,000 on polling and refunded more than $160,000 to donors after quitting the race.

A Democrat seeking the seat Gonzalez will vacate, Matthew Diemer of Bay Village, raised nearly $19,000 during the quarter, spent more than $20,000 and had around $5,500 in the bank. A second Democrat in the race, Aaron Paul Godfrey of Westlake, filed a report that said he didn’t raise any money, spent $89 and had $219 in his campaign account.

Champaign County Republican Rep. Jim Jordan raised the most money of any Northeast Ohio congressional candidate in the quarter: more than $1.5 million. FEC records showed spent more than $953,000 and had $7.9 million in the bank at the end of the reporting period.

Most of his money came from small out-of-state donors, although he collected $1,000 from Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman of Lima. His campaign also reported $5,000 contributions from political action committees associated with Community Bancshares of Mississippi and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America and $2,500 donations from PACs associated with Koch Industries and the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Jordan’s campaign spent more than $400,000 on “digital consulting,” but also reported collecting more than $100,000 from renting its campaign contributor list to its main digital consulting firm. Jordan donated $5,000 to U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s campaign for Georgia Secretary of State and made $2,000 contributions to the GOP congressional campaigns of Mike Carey of Upper Arlington, U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati, and U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana.

Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur collected almost $85,000 during the quarter, spent around $50,000 and had nearly $859,000 in her treasury. Her campaign got $5,000 donations from political action committees associated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union and Honeywell International employees. PACs associated with the Communications Workers of America, American Postal Workers Union, United Food & Commercial Workers Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Bechtel Group, General Atomics and Raytheon each gave her campaign $2,500.

Her campaign made $1,000 donations to Democratic congressional candidates, including Shontel Brown of Warrensville Heights, Allison Russo of Upper Arlington, U.S. Reps. Susan Wild and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, and U.S. Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada.

A Republican who filed paperwork to run against Kaptur, J.R. Majewski of Port Clinton, reported collecting almost $49,000 in the quarter, spending more than $27,000 and finishing the quarter with a bankroll that exceeds $63,000.

Holmes County Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs raised more than $73,000 in the quarter, spent almost $81,000 and had nearly $459,000 in the bank at the end of the reporting period. His campaign received $2,500 donations from political action committees affiliated with Exxon Mobil Corporation, Federal Express, Associated Builders and Contractors, United Parcel Service, and the American Maritime Officers union.

Gibbs donated $50,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, gave $2,500 to the campaign of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and made $1,000 donations to other Republican congressional candidates, including incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati, Columbus’ Mike Carey, Florida’s Amanda Makki and Maine’s Bruce Poliquin.

Brenden Kelley, a Russell Township Democrat who has filed paperwork to run in the district currently represented by Bainbridge Township Republican Dave Joyce, reported raising more than $25,000 in the quarter, spending nearly $47,000, and finishing the quarter with around $40,000 on hand. Joyce has not yet filed his report.

This story will be updated with more campaign finance information as reports are filed.

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