Del. Kathy Afzali (Dist. 4A) sent an e-mail to supporters last month from her state email address in which she highlighted her bid for a Congressional seat and asked for campaign contributions.
State officials say those elected to the Maryland General Assembly are prohibited from using their state email address for campaign purposes. The action could be subject to an ethics complaint.
Afzali said she was aware of the mistake and contacted William Somerville, ethics counsel for the state’s department of legislative services, shortly after sending the announcement.
“It won’t happen again,” she said on Wednesday.
In the email, sent on Jan. 16, Afzali, of Myersville, writes about a marriage rally in Annapolis. The email included the banner, “I am running for Congress, but I’m still your Delegate!”
At the bottom of the email she asks for donations for her congressional campaign at the bottom of the email: “Please help by sending your generous contribution to: Kathy for Congress ... paid for by Kathy Afzali for Congress.”
The email was sent from her state-assigned address, email@example.com.
Somerville said legislative ethics guidelines prohibit the use of General Assembly email and stationery for political campaigning.
Someone can file an ethics complaint about the gaffe to the Maryland State Ethics Commission, but more often, Somerville said, he takes care of it himself.
“I will get in touch and say, ‘Ack, don’t do that,’ and then the legislator will send out an email apologizing,” Somerville said.
According to the legislator’s guidelines on the use of stationery and email, “...these resources are to be used only for use in General Assembly business and for customary constituent services. Other correspondence, particularly if it relates to a political campaign, must be sent on non-official letterhead or private email.”
Afzali declined to comment if she sent a follow-up email acknowledging her error.