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Gansler: Fundraising by Rival’s Running Mate During Legislative Session is ‘Mockery’ of Maryland Law

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler, Maryland’s Attorney General, distributed an open letter asking his rival’s running mate not to fundraise while the Maryland General Assembly is in session.

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler kicked of his bid as the Democratic candidate for Maryland governor in Rockville, MD. FILE | Patch
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler kicked of his bid as the Democratic candidate for Maryland governor in Rockville, MD. FILE | Patch

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, his rival for state governor, would be making a “mockery” of Maryland law if Brown’s running mate follows through with plans to solicit campaign funds during the session. 

The letter was distributed Tuesday—one day before the Maryland General Assembly re-convened—and states: 

“… we ask the Brown/Ulman ticket to respect not only the law but also the spirit of the 90-day fundraising ban and not accept donations during the upcoming legislative session.

“It is impossible to split a ticket in two. Half of a ticket continuing to raise money while the other half is barred from doing so makes a mockery of a law designed to prevent special interest money from influencing public officials as they make critical legislative decisions on the behalf of people who elected them.”

State law prohibits state office holders—which includes Brown, Gansler and Gansler’s running mate Del. Jolene Ivy—from asking for campaign funds during the 90-day legislative session. 

But the State Board of Elections said it was OK for Brown's running mate Howard County Executive Ken Ulman to raise money during the session, The Washington Post has reported. 

In December, Gansler supporters filed a lawsuit to block Ulman from fundraising.

In a recent interview, Brown told The Washington Post that he planned to abide by the interpretation of the law offered by the elections board.

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Here is the full text of the letter:

January 7, 2014

Dear Lieutenant Governor Brown and County Executive Ulman:

We are writing to you today not only as candidates on a joint ticket for governor and lieutenant governor, but as public servants elected to represent the people of Maryland; and we ask the Brown/Ulman ticket to respect not only the law but also the spirit of the 90-day fundraising ban and not accept donations during the upcoming legislative session.

It is impossible to split a ticket in two. Half of a ticket continuing to raise money while the other half is barred from doing so makes a mockery of a law designed to prevent special interest money from influencing public officials as they make critical legislative decisions on the behalf of people who elected them.

Maryland’s 1997 campaign finance reform law, which banned statewide elected officials, state legislators and any “person acting on [their] behalf” from raising money during the state’s 90-day legislative session, closed the door on powerful moneyed interests who cut checks to influence votes on their favored legislation. It means to protect state lawmaking from the corrupting influence of special interest money. With your decision to game the system and continue raising money during session, you open the door back up to the influence peddlers.

Everyone who contributes to Mr. Ulman during the session knows that he is just one half of a two-person operation – that is why he is called a “running mate” – and so everyone knows that by financially supporting his candidacy, they are supporting your ticket. There can be no purpose to Mr. Ulman’s fundraising other than to advance your shared political future. Indeed, under the state constitution, he cannot run for lieutenant governor without the written consent of the gubernatorial candidate, and voters literally cannot vote for him without voting for Anthony Brown – your names are listed together on the ballot with just one box to check beside them.

Lobbyists now know that if they want to use their money to help shape Mr. Brown’s legislative agenda and sway votes on key bills, they can give it to Mr. Ulman for safekeeping. This clearly thwarts the intent of thefundraising ban, erodes our state’s efforts to keep our lawmaking clean, and substantially undermines the public’s confidence in their elected representatives.

We need to keep our legislative process as free as possible from the undue influence of special interest money, as the 90-day ban has helped us to do for most of its history. The best way for you to honor the spirit of that ban and respect the people of Maryland is to apply it to your ticket, even if the law technically allows you to skirt it, which we do not believe it does. This is the only way to ensure that the people of Maryland take precedence over special interests in Annapolis this session.

Sincerely,

Douglas Gansler and Jolene Ivey

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