Md. Political Fundraising Issue Going to Court

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Candidates for lieutenant governor should not be able to raise money during Maryland’s legislative session if they are on a ticket with someone who is barred from doing the same, opponents of recent guidance by the Maryland State Board of Elections said in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Attorney Daniel Clements is representing a plaintiff from the city of Baltimore and another from Baltimore County. He wrote in court papers that the purpose of the law is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety from fundraising during session.

The lawsuit specifically focuses on Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, the running mate of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. Guidance from the elections board released last week said Ulman could raise money as long as he does not coordinate with Brown, who is banned from raising money during the session. The session begins Jan. 8 and ends April 7.

Clements contends the two positions “are one team, inseparable, coordinated and working together by law and their filing.”

“Further, the purpose of the law is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety which flows from the elected official fundraising during the session,” Clements wrote. “Once Defendant Brown’s designated candidate for lieutenant governor, Defendant Ulman, solicits or receives funds on behalf of the Brown Ulman ticket, the appearance of impropriety has occurred and cannot be fixed.”

The lawsuit asks the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to prohibit Ulman from raising money during session.

“A permanent injunction is necessary and proper in order to prevent irreparable harm to Maryland voters and the integrity of the Maryland political campaign process, and to protect the public interest,” Clements wrote.

Two of Brown and Ulman’s opponents in the Democratic primary — Attorney General Doug Gansler and running mate Del. Jolene Ivey — cannot raise money during the session.

The fundraising issue is getting added attention partly because Maryland’s primary was moved up from September to June 24 in order to make sure that voters in the military and overseas have time to receive absentee ballots.

Last week, after the board released its opinion, Brown’s campaign issued a statement saying Ulman would follow the letter of the law regarding any fundraising he does during session.

Gansler’s campaign criticized the board’s opinion, and expressed confidence a court would decide the fundraising would be prohibited.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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