The Democratic-leaning Justice and Public Safety Political Action Committee, a Super PAC based in Washington, DC, and funded by billionaire investor George Soros, has spent almost $659,000 supporting Leesburg attorney Buta Biberaj’s campaign for Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney, according to the latest campaign finance disclosure reports.
While Republican candidates up until now generally have led with big, out-of-town donations to their campaigns, the $337,546 of reported spending by the super PAC between Oct. 1 and Oct. 24 made Biberaj’s campaign the highest-fundraising local campaign during the reporting period, with almost $416,000 in contributions received in total. It also makes that part of October four times bigger than her next-biggest fundraising period, when the campaign brought in more than $96,000 over two months in July and August.
Biberaj said the super PAC is only supporting the message she was already promoting.
“What they’re about is making sure that we have a voice in the community so that we are able to go ahead and make some of these changes that I was promoting and I was promising very early on,” Biberaj said.
And she said what is more concerning is donations from local developers to other campaigns.
“Those are developers and people who actually will have a more direct expectation as to what’s going to happen in the community,” Biberaj said. “Justice and Public Safety PAC is not coming in here trying to dictate what we do.”
Super PACs may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations, but by law they cannot directly contribute money to or coordinate with parties or candidates.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, in Virginia, the Democratic-leaning Justice and Public Safety PAC’s has supported the Democratic candidates in commonwealth’s attorney races in Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington, and Albemarle counties. All of the donations in the Biberaj campaign in October were in-kind donations for mailers, advertising, literature, and polling. She is also the super PAC’s biggest beneficiary in Virginia, with $658,973 of spending reported, narrowly beating the amount spent in Fairfax.
The super PAC has made waves in local elections in swing districts around the country as it has invested heavily in those races, particularly in races for chief prosecutors like the commonwealth’s attorney. Soros, who survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary before emigrating to the U.K. and eventually gaining his citizenship in the United States, has made criminal justice reform a priority in his political spending.
For Biberaj, who comes from a large family, the other biggest donors last month were family members. Her brother Bob Biberaj, president of A-Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning in Manassas, gave $1,000, plus another $10,000 came from the company. Her brother Hasan Biberaj, a New York City real estate businessman whose properties include the famous Russian Tea Room in Manhattan, gave $25,000. She also loaned her own campaign $20,000.
Her opponent, Republican Nicole Wittmann raised $30,870 in the same period. Wittmann, who served as chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney, was sworn in as commonwealth’s attorney Oct. 31, to serve the final two month of Jim Plowman’s term. Plowman on Nov. 1 began his service as a Circuit Court judge, following an appointment by the General Assembly.
Biberaj’s is not the only campaign bringing in serious contributions. Republican candidate for county chairman, John C. L. Whitbeck Jr., is approaching Loudoun’s first million-dollar campaign for local office, with $959,860 of fundraising reported as of the Oct. 28 deadline. In the most recent reporting period, his campaign reported $229,565 in receipts. For Whitbeck, who formerly chaired the Republican Party of Virginia, the biggest donor was the state party, with $163,801 of in-kind contributions for mailers and voter phone calls.
His Democratic opponent, incumbent Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), reported $171,596 of fundraising during the most recent period, the second only to Biberaj. Her biggest donor was the Democratic Party of Virginia with $102,934, including $76,547 of in-kind donations of mailers and event supplies. The independent candidate, Bob Ohneiser, is conducting no fundraising in his campaign.
But independent candidate for Catoctin District supervisor Sam Kroiz may have brought in a Loudoun campaign fundraising first: an in-kind donation of ads on beer cans. Crooked Run Brewing, which hosted a fundraiser for Kroiz at its Leesburg location on Oct. 19, created beer cans labelled with Kroiz’s campaign sign.
Kroiz, the eighth generation to farm at Georges Mill Farm, where he and his family make and sell goat cheese, raised $6,911 in total in the reporting period, including $4,000 of in-kind donations for catering, event funding, and the beer cans.
He faces two party-backed candidates: Republican Caleb A. Kershner, and Democrat J. Forest Hayes. Kershner reported $31,114 in fundraising, including $18,260 of in-kind donations from the Republican Party of Virginia in mailers. Hayes’ campaign finance reports have not yet been posted to the state board of elections website as of Friday afternoon. The deadline to submit on time was Oct. 28.
In the Algonkian District for Board of Supervisors, Democrat Juli E. Briskman, reported $25,926 in fundraising and $54,967 on hand. Incumbent Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) reported $2,533 in fundraising and $61,671 cash on hand.
In Ashburn, Republican M. “Mick” Staton, Jr. reported $7,460 raised and $80,002 on hand. The biggest contribution was an in-kind contribution of a video by homemaker Renee Henderson of Lovettsville, which was valued at $6,500. Democrat Michael R. “Mike” Turner reported $11,639 raised and $22,628 on hand.
In Blue Ridge, incumbent Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) reported $4,225 raised and $54,034 on hand. His challenger, Democrat Tia L. Walbridge, reported $26,535 raised and $20,515 on hand.
In Broad Run, Republican James G. “Jim” Bonfils reported $17,583 raised and $29,931 on hand. His biggest donor was the Virginia Dogwood PAC with $11,720 of in-kind printing, consulting and web services. Virginia Dogwood’s donors include developers like the Brambleton Group and David Gregory and law firms. Democrat Sylva Russell Glass reported $10,311 raised and $9,788 on hand.
In Dulles, incumbent Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) reported $7,175 raised and $38,269 on hand. His opponent, Democrat Sree R. Nagireddi reported $24,069 raised and $9,124 on hand.
In Leesburg, incumbent Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) is running unopposed and reported no fundraising.
In Sterling, Republican Damien P. Katsirubas reported $200 raised and $5,142 on hand. Incumbent Democrat Koran T. Saines reported $8,068 raised and $10,079 on hand.
In the race for Commissioner of the Revenue, incumbent Robert S. “Bob” Wertz, Jr. (R) reported $4,727 raised and $27,234 on hand. Campaign finance reports for his opponent, Democrat Sri S. Amudhanar, were not available as of Friday afternoon.
For sheriff, incumbent Michael L. “Mike” Chapman (R) reported $1,275 raised and $51,507 on hand. Democrat Justin P. Hannah (D) reported $3,903 raised, including an in-kind donation of a video from Tides Advocacy valued at $1,000, and $4,313 on hand.
For treasurer, Democrat Kannan Srinivasan reported $29,378 in fundraising, including $29,378 in-kind from the Democratic Party of Virginia for mailers, and $10,294 on hand. Incumbent H. Roger Zurn, Jr. (R) reported $6,100 raised and $30,301 on hand.