Gansler campaign finance group meets tomorrow
An advisory committee eyeing reforms to Maryland's campaign finance system will meet tomorrow afternoon in Baltimore. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler assembled the 10-member group this fall to examine political slates, candidate loans and other perceived loopholes in the system, with the aim of submitting legislation early next year.
This weekend, The Sun wrote about campaign finance, highlighting several situations that, while legal, tend to raise eyebrows:
On a single day in January, developer Steve Whalen used several corporations he controlled to contribute seven times the individual campaign donation limit to the eventual winner of the race for Baltimore County executive, Kevin Kamenetz.
As Election Day four years ago drew near, prominent Washington attorney John Coale loaned half a million dollars to the candidate who would become governor, Martin O'Malley.
A decade ago, Lawrence Bell, a candidate for mayor of Baltimore, spent more than $4,000 in campaign funds on suits.
The meeting at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at 200 St. Paul Place, the attorney general's office, is open to the public. Members of the public can submit written comments, though it's unlikely that the committee will listen to live testimony.
Comments may be submitted by Dec. 6 to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Ru Belt at the Office of the Attorney General, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202.
Gansler ruffled feathers in Annapolis by including four lawmakers on the committee without talking to legislative leaders.
"As a courtesy, I would always suggest it's a good idea to inform the presiding officers before utilizing members of the body," House Speaker Michael E. Busch told The Sun last week, adding that he might one day assemble a committee of assistant attorneys general without first consulting Gansler.
Committee members: Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R- Howard County); Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery); Del. Ron George, (R-Anne Arundel); Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George's); Carville Collins,
counsel for the Republican State Central Committee (GOP reports that the party's counsel is actually Robert Ostrom); Bruce Marcus, counsel for the Maryland Democratic State Central Committee; Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator, Maryland Board of Elections; Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance, Maryland Board of Elections; Katherine Winfree, chief deputy attorney general; John B. Howard Jr., deputy attorney general.
Among the topics the panel will study:
•Clarification of the definition and operation of multi-candidate slates.
•Disclosure requirements, including identification of entities subject to disclosure requirements, in light of the Citizens United decision.
•Revision of aggregate contribution limits.
•Permissibility and regulation of contributions made through electronic means.
•Regulation of use of new media in campaigns.
•Treatment of party administrative expenses.
•Role of limited liability companies in campaign finance.
•Distinguishing permissible uses of campaign funds from prohibited uses.
•Loans to campaigns by candidates and third parties.