Smith family, John Angelos funded Vignarajah super PAC, delayed disclosure shows

Published 8/30/2022 5:06 p.m. EDT

Thiru Vignarajah in front of a light blue wall

Four members of the family that founded Baltimore County-based Sinclair Broadcast Group and Orioles CEO John Angelos were among the funders of a super PAC supporting Baltimore City State’s Attorney candidate Thiru Vignarajah that is only now revealing where its money came from.

Records filed during the campaign showed the A Safer, Stronger Baltimore PAC spent $220,000 in support of Vignarajah’s second unsuccessful state’s attorney bid. But while the political action committee listed expenditures, it did not report receiving any money.

Now the PAC is disclosing that its funds came from seven contributors. The largest came from four Smith siblings — Blake, Devon, Jacqueline and Matt, who are grandchildren of the founder of Sinclair Broadcast Group and children of the current chairman, David Smith. Each gave $50,000 to the PAC, for a total of $200,000.

That allowed them to far exceed individual contribution limits, which restrict donors to $6,000 per candidate, per campaign cycle.

Blake, Devon and Jacqueline had already given the individual maximum to Vignarajah, in April, meaning the four gave Vignarajah a total of $218,000.

Other members of the Smith family also maxed out as individual contributors to Vignarajah’s campaign. Alexander Smith, of the Atlas Restaurant Group, gave $6,000 in June; Jason and Duncan Smith, of Sinclair Broadcast Group, each gave $6,000.

David Smith, recently gave $385,000 to fund ballot measures that would enable term limits and for residents to recall elected officials. The latter failed, but the term limits measure is expected to be on the ballot.

There were two other donors to the A Safer, Stronger Baltimore PAC. Orioles CEO John Angelos, who had already given Vignarajah $2,500 as an individual, gave $10,000 to the super PAC.

Terry Giles, a high-profile attorney from Houston who ran Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign, also gave $10,000, in addition to maxing out as an individual contributor.

The PAC was started in 2020 during Vignarajah’s run for mayor by attorney Stacey Grigsby, who stepped down in May after being appointed deputy White House counsel. Her husband and Vignarajah were Yale classmates.

The PAC ran an ad that featured a voice over of Marilyn Mosby criticizing Ivan Bates. The ad, featuring old footage of Rep. Kweisi Mfume standing in support of Mosby, caused Mfume and political strategist Larry Gibson to reveal that they were not endorsing Mosby for her third run at public office.

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Ivan Bates, who won the Democratic primary, got a boost to the tune of $436,000 from a super PAC as well, funded entirely by former T. Rowe Price executive and former mayoral candidate Mary Miller, who appeared in ads along with former mayor Sheila Dixon in support of Bates.

And another super PAC, Just Reform PAC, spent money in opposition of Vignarajah. Organizers said they were launching the PAC to advocate for law enforcement candidates across the country with a strong platform of reform, or conversely to highlight candidates they believe are “regressive in their mindset and opposed to the values of meaningful reform.” Opposing Vignarajah was their first action as an organization.