New, broader fundraising guidelines from the Maryland State Board of Elections appear to step back from a December ruling by State Election Administrator Linda Lamone that allowed the running mates of gubernatorial candidates who hold statewide office to raise money during the legislative session.
But the latest guidelines are not a step back, said Jared DeMarinis, director of the State Board of Elections’ Candidacy and Campaign Finance Division.
Election law prevents state elected officials — including the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and members of the General Assembly — from raising money during the 90 day session, which began Jan. 8.
Lamone’s ruling raised eyebrows among members of the Board of Elections who said they were not consulted before the ruling was issued.
It also prompted supporters of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler’s gubernatorial bid to file suit on Dec. 26, 2013 asking the Anne Arundel Circuit Court require the State Board of Elections enforce election law and prevent Howard County Executive Kenneth S. Ulman (D) — running mate of Gansler’s opponent Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) — from raising funds during the legislative session.
Gansler’s running mate Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47) of Cheverly is prohibited from fundraising during the session. The ruling does not apply to Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park and her running mate the Rev. Delman Coates, who have opted to for public financing, allowing them to take donations up to $250 throughout the session.
Plaintiffs argue Lamone “got it wrong” in her December ruling. They claim that because Ulman is running with Brown on a single ticket, it is impossible for Ulman to raise money that isn’t on behalf of Brown and impossible to raise money that isn’t in cooperation with Brown.
“Now, instead of taking the courageous and correct step and saying ‘We got it wrong,’ they want to clarify and say ‘By the way, you can’t do that,’” plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Clements said Friday of the new guidelines. “In my view, they are now saying nothing more than the law itself says.”
Governor and lieutenant governor are the only offices in Maryland where candidates are jointly placed on the ballot, where candidates run as a unit and where votes cast for the governor are votes cast for the lieutenant governor and vice versa.
Yet DeMarinis said the law separates candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, each must pay a separate filing fee and establish a campaign committee.
As for the new guidelines, “this is a broader guidance, this one covers other factors,” he said. It does not retreat from the previous ruling, he said.
Applicable to independent expenditures from political action committees and Super PACs as well, the new guidelines detail what is not permitted when it comes to “cooperation and coordination” with candidates and campaigns, he said.
DeMarinis would not say whether the new guidelines were run by the board first, saying only that it “came out the normal way.”
Specifically, “we craft guidance, we seek some legal clarification on it or some review on it and then we issue the guidance.” We, he said, are the Board of Elections division of Candidacy and Campaign Finance.
Clements could not say Friday what affect the new guidelines will have on the lawsuit. The case is set for a hearing Feb. 26.
Election Board member Rachel McGuckian, a Rockville lawyer, did not return multiple requests for comment.
Ulman’s campaign also did not respond.