Josh Kurtz: The Company He Keeps

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Doug Gansler’s middle name is Friend. Nothing could be more appropriate.

It’s good to have friends. Friends have helped Gansler bank about $2.9 million in his campaign account, as of January – far and away the most of any possible contender for governor. And friends have answered the call for Gansler’s latest big fundraiser, this Thursday night in Bethesda, with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), as the A-list headliner.

The invitation is a powerful statement – pages upon pages of agate type, listing 118 sets of “generals” for the fundraiser, 229 sets of benefactors and 161 sets of sponsors. The attorney general, it fairly screams, is a man with a lot of support.

Since 1998, Maryland gubernatorial elections have become multimillion-dollar affairs. So while it seems, three years before Election Day, that Gansler is well on his way to smashing fundraising records, it’s too early to tell if he’ll actually do it. Other candidates through the years – winners and losers – have had plenty of donors. And the candidate with the most money doesn’t always win.

But Gansler’s list of top financial supporters on this invitation is impressive and unlike any other we’ve seen in Maryland – even Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s. It is, quite simply, a Washington-centric list of people who don’t often pay much attention to Maryland politics (and yes, we know, Gansler does a big Baltimore fundraiser, with a substantially different set of contributors, every year).

More than just Washington-centric, his donors are concentrated in just a few zip codes – primarily in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac and Northwest Washington, west of Rock Creek Park.

Based on a Google search of all 118 sets of generals for Gansler’s Warner fundraiser, it is almost possible to draw a portrait of a typical big Gansler supporter – someone roughly of his generation, who works in finance or real estate or the law, who sends his kids to private school, does charitable work (frequently for Jewish causes) and, often enough, has been featured in Washington Life magazine or some other society publication for his good works or fabulous home.

Now, this is Maryland. Gansler grew up in Montgomery County and his political base is there. A lot of wealthy people live in Montgomery County. No statewide candidate in Maryland is going to rack up huge numbers of contributions from Western Maryland or the Eastern Shore. There simply isn’t that concentration of wealth in those parts of the state.

Politicians are forever touting their small donations: Look, Granny on a fixed income in a small town believes in me so much that she coughed up $15. Everybody has a few of those. But it’s the big money that makes a big difference.

And regardless of where they come from, pols are always boasting about their ability to connect with average folks. Some are better at this than others.

But just as you can sometimes take the measure of a man by his friends, you can often take the measure of a politician by his most generous contributors. It seemed like it would be an interesting exercise to catalogue some of Gansler’s top supporters.

So without further ado – or commentary – here are mini-biographies of most of the “generals” on Gansler’s invitation. A few people were left out because their information wasn’t readily available online – usually because they had common names.

First, a word about the couple that is hosting Thursday’s fundraiser, Andrew and Jaime Schwartzberg: He’s a real estate executive. Their 4,900-square foot home in Bethesda has been valued at $2.2 million.

Now, the generals, in alphabetical order:

• Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP: One of the top law firms in the world.

• John Arnholz and Julia Slavin: He’s a K Street lawyer for financial institutions. She’s a short story writer.

• Lou and Ami Aronson: He’s chairman of the gaming and racinos practice at Saul Ewing LLP in D.C. and is also involved in real estate and venture capital. He’s also a former Gansler campaign chairman. She’s managing director of the Bernstein Family Foundation, which is connected to a large real estate concern.

• Thomas and Hilary Baltimore: He’s with a real estate investment firm and she’s a real estate consultant and contractor. Their “imposing Georgian manse” in Potomac, all 10,500-square feet of it, was featured in The Washington Post real estate section last year.

• Brian and Joanne Barlia: He’s a partner in Triangle Ventures, an “urban development” firm in D.C.

• David and Nan Bender: He’s with an office building development and management firm in D.C.

• John Bentivoglio: Attorney with Skadden Arps, a leading international firm, specializing in heath care regulation and litigation.

• Adam and Tracy Bernstein: Affiliated with Bernstein Cos., a D.C. real estate concern.

• Stuart and Wilma Bernstein: Also part of the Bernstein real estate office, he was George W. Bush’s ambassador to Denmark. She’s a philanthropist.

• Peter and Karen Beveridge: He’s CEO of eyeblack.com, a Rockville advertising firm.

• Hon. Len and Shelley Blondes: He’s a Bethesda attorney who served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1963 to 1970.

• Darryl Bradford: Electric utility executive.

• Katherine Bradley: Foundation head, married to David Bradley, publisher of The Atlantic, National Journal and other publications. The Washington Social Diary in 2008 said they “stand out as party hosts.”

• Douglas Bregman: Bethesda real estate attorney.

• Elizabeth Bresee: Vice president of Capital One, and a former assistant Treasury secretary under President Clinton.

• Peter Brown: Owner of a hedge fund and expert in artificial intelligence, married to Margaret Hamburg, chief of the Food and Drug Administration.

• Spencer and Pamela Buckholz: He’s a partner in a San Diego law firm specializing in securities class actions.

• Connie Campanella and Kevin Casey: She’s president and CEO of Stateside Associates, a state and local lobbying firm based in Arlington, Va.

• Michael and Harolyn Cardozo: He’s a corporate lawyer who worked for the Clinton and Carter administrations and was executive director of Clinton’s first legal defense fund. She’s the daughter of real estate developer and uber Democratic donor Nathan Landow. She was a volunteer for the Clinton administration who testified before a grand jury for three hours about the president’s alleged relationship with Kathleen Willey. She now works as an executive with the Washington Nationals.

• Will and Erin Castleberry: He’s a former Glendening administration official who made good, working as vice president for public policy at AOL.

• Clarissa Cerda: Executive of LifeLock, a Phoenix-area company that fights identity theft.

• Darren Check: Securities lawyer in the Philadelphia area.

• Jonathan and Randi Cherner: He’s a D.C.-area automotive executive and also owns a quick loan business.

• Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa: Owned by former Chesapeake Beach mayor and longtime Maryland political insider Gerald Donovan.

• Chitwood Harley Harnes LLP: Law firm in Atlanta specializing in class action suits.

• Steven and Leena Choi: Based in Rockville, he’s the manager of food service establishments.

• Paul and Anne Christman: He’s a software executive in D.C. She’s Gansler’s campaign treasurer.

• John Coale: Tort lawyer married to Fox News personality Grete Van Susteren. Also known as an adviser to Sarah Palin and attended Kim Cardashian’s wedding.

• Richard Cohen: Director, Axent Realty Group, Washington.

• Scott and Jillian Copeland: She’s a Potomac educator.

• Cam Cowan and Patricia Jeanne Cowan: He’s a debt capital markets lawyer in D.C. and she’s a self-employed historian.

• Michael and Betsy Danziger: He’s founder and CEO of The Steppingstone Foundation in Boston and is a director of Block Drug Co., which was founded by his relatives a century ago.

• John and April Delaney: He’s chairman of Capital Source Inc. and Capital Source Bank, and she’s a former telecommunications lawyer.

• Tony and Amy Dias: They’re both lawyers at Jones Day, another giant firm with offices around the country.

• Hurley and Deborah Doddey: He’s a founder and co-CEO of Emerging Capital Partners in D.C., which focuses on investing in Africa.

• Richard and Elizabeth Dubin: He’s a Bethesda condo and apartment developer, and they jointly run the Elizabeth and Richard Dubin Foundation.

• Rick and Renee Edson: He’s an executive at AHP Virginia LLC and Housing Capital Advisors LLC.

• Melvyn and Suellen Estrin: He’s CEO of Human Service Group Inc. and on the board of Washington Gas.

• Raul and Jeanne Marie Fernandez: He’s a well-known tech executive in Northern Virginia, a former top aide to Jack Kemp, and partial owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards.

• Jeff and Lisa Franzien: He’s a real estate executive.

• Michelle Freeman: CEO of Carl Freeman Cos., an Olney-based real estate developer.

• Clayton Friedman: Regulatory lawyer with Manatt, Phillips, another nationwide legal powerhouse.

• Morton and Norma Lee Funger: Well-known D.C.-area real estate executive and his philanthropist wife.

• Earl Furfine: Information technology entrepreneur in Alexandria, Va.

• Paul and Martha Gaffney: He’s a partner and intellectual property lawyer at Williams and Connolly in D.C.

• Jacques and Leah Gansler: The AG’s parents. She’s the founder of Charity Works. He’s a former Defense Department official and info. tech executive who teaches at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs.

• Alan Gocha: General counsel, ETC Capital, in suburban Detroit.

• Jason Goldblatt and Melissa Kimmel: He’s a real estate executive and she’s an assistant general counsel at PhRMA, the lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry.

• Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine: Currently, co-owners of the Politics and Prose bookstore in D.C. He’s a former Washington Post reporter and she’s a writer who helped Hillary Clinton on her autobiography, “Living History.”

• Dr. Jay Greenstein: Prominent Maryland sports chiropractor.

• Murry and Lisa Gunty: He’s a managing partner at Blackstreet Capital in Chevy Chase. She’s a former donor to Rudy Giuliani.

• Albert Hawk: Founder and managing partner of Corstone Capital and chairman of Pay Staff, a business processing outsourcing company.

• Carlos and May-May Horcasitas: CEO and CFO, respectively, of Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Properties.

• Brian and Vanessa Javadpour: He’s CEO of a financial services company in Bethesda.

• Daniel and Lisa Jobe: Greenbelt auto dealers.

• Richard and Rebecca Kay: He’s an executive of a data storage company and other businesses who is close to Raul Fernandez and Ted Leonsis, the principal owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards.

• Jon Faiz Kayyem and Paige Gates: He’s chief science officer of a molecular diagnostics company in Carlsbad, Calif. They have their own family trust.

• Benjamin Klubes and Risa Bender: He is an attorney representing financial institutions and insurers. She’s an attorney as well.

• Bill Knapp and Jean Milbauer: He’s a partner at SKD Knickerbocker, a prominent Democratic consulting firm.

• Nathan Landow: Bethesda real estate heavyweight and longtime Democratic powerhouse.

• Marvin and Delia Lang: He works for a realty investor and property manager.

• Ethan and Karen Leder: He’s CEO and co-founder of United BioSource Corp. in Chevy Chase.

• Mimsy Lindner: Activist and political donor, married to D.C. parking mogul Rusty Lindner.

• Medical Emergency Professionals LLC: Emergency physicians, based in Germantown.

• Joel and Deborah Meisel: He runs a company with commercial property holdings in the D.C. and Baltimore areas. She works for a high-end jeweler in the D.C. area.

• Roger Mody: He’s founder of SIGNAL, a company that provides computer networks to the federal government, and is a part owner of the Washington Capitals and Wizards.

• Bernard Nash: Heads the state attorney general practice at Dickstein Shapiro, a prominent D.C. firm.

• Christopher Nassetta: President and CEO of Hilton Worldwide.

• Randolph and Rona Nelson: He’s a gas exploration company executive in New York. They are prominent arts donors there.

• Nickolas and Theckla Pantazes: He’s a bail bondsman in Rockville.

• Ron and Joy Paul: He’s chairman of Eagle Bank in Bethesda.

• George and Marilyn Pedersen: He’s CEO of ManTech International Corp.

• Joseph Petito: A partner at Price Waterhouse.

• A.P. Pishevar: Rockville lawyer

• Russ and Norma Ramsey: He’s a D.C-area investment banker who is chairman of the board of George Washington University.

• RIAA: Recording Industry Association of America.

• Adam and Elizabeth Rosman: She heads Message Protocols, a mobile device application for promoting emails. He’s deputy general counsel for a British insurance brokerage in New York.

• Lawrence and Shannon Rosoff: He heads a health care research company in Bethesda.

• Michael Rossetti and Edith Blackwell: He’s a lawyer for tribal interests at Akin Gump (see above). She’s a lawyer for the Department of the Interior.

• Rene Sandler: Rockville lawyer.

• Peter Scher: Executive vice president and head of corporate responsibility for JPMorgan Chase.

• Dr. Bob Seder and Debbie Harmon: He’s an immunologist with the National Institutes of Health. She’s in real estate finance.

• Jeffrey and Laura Shell: He’s president of NBC Universal International.

• Carmen Shepard: She’s a lawyer representing generic pharmaceutical manufacturers.

• John and Alison Shulman: He’s an executive with Juggernaut Capital Partners, a private equity firm.

• Dan and Tanya Snyder: He owns the Washington Redskins.

• Daniel Standish and Melanie Dorsey: They’re lawyers. He’s an insurance attorney for Wiley Rein LLP.

• Darren Thompson and Elizabeth Howell: He’s a special adviser for AMEX. She’s with Revolution Money, an alternative payments company.

• William and Maria Titelman: He’s a securities litigator. She’s a one-time aide to former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R).

• Victor and Julia Tolkan: They’re both with Penzance, a real estate investment firm in D.C. He’s the former CEO of The Door Store.

• Hon. Joseph Tydings: Former U.S. Senator from Maryland who is chairman of Gansler’s campaign committee.

• John VerStanding and Helene Frank: He’s a broadcasting mogul.

• Mac VerStanding: He’s a commercial and employment practices lawyer in Reiserstown.

• Scott Vicary: An expert on venture capital and Eastern Europe.

• Irving and Carol Yoskowitz: He’s a senior counsel in the energy practice at Dickstein Shapiro.

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at .

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Baltimore Ravin’s

Jack Johnson and the Offal Truth

Betting the Chalk

Death Knell for Democrats?

The Bruce of Summer

Nightmare Scenario

Sources: Congressional delegation Dems eye Bartlett as redistricting target

Talkin’ 'Bout Their Generation

A Triple Play of Political Shame – An Indictment of the Ehrlich Campaign, Maryland’s Fumble on Gay Marriage, and the Prince George’s Ethical Saga

White Prince George's

A DREAM Denied?

Frack This!

The Undercard

Talking Union Blues
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Josh Kurtz has been writing about Maryland politics since late 1995. Louie Goldstein, William Donald Schaefer and Pete Rawlings were alive, but the Intercounty Connector, as far as anyone could tell, was dead.


But some things never change: Mike Miller is still in charge of the Senate. Gerry Evans and Bruce Bereano are among the top-earning lobbyists in Annapolis. Steny Hoyer is still waiting for Nancy Pelosi to disappear. And Maryland Republicans are still struggling to be relevant.


The media landscape in Maryland has changed a lot, and Kurtz is happy to write weekly for Center Maryland. He's been writing a column for the website since it launched in January 2010.


In his "real" job, Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily down on Capitol Hill. But he'll always find Maryland politics more fascinating.


Kurtz grew up in New York City and attended public schools there. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He's married with two daughters and lives in Takoma Park, Md. He hopes you'll drop him a line, or maybe go out for a meal with him, because he's always hungry -- for political gossip.