Fundraising pledge leads to dismissal of case against Brown -- Gazette.Net







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ANNAPOLIS — A lawsuit to prevent gubernatorial candidate Anthony G. Brown’s running mate from fundraising during the legislative session was withdrawn after Brown declared that his ticket hasn’t and never intended to raise money during that dark period.

Daniel M. Clements, who supports Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, one of Brown’s opponents, withdrew his suit on Feb. 26, arguing the case was moot. He told reporters the plaintiffs got everything they asked for.

Maryland law forbids statewide office holders — including Brown as lieutenant governor — from raising campaign donations during the General Assembly’s 90-day legislative session, which began Jan. 8. Ulman, as Howard County executive, ordinarily wouldn’t face the same restriction.

State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone ruled in December that Ulman could continue raising money.

Clements and other critics filed the suit, arguing that the ruling made no sense, because candidates for governor and lieutenant run as a ticket.

After Clements filed suit Dec. 26 in Anne Arundel County on behalf of Gansler supporters, Brown wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Post saying he and Ulman never intended to raise money during the legislative session.

Circuit Court Judge William C. Mulford II dismissed the suit Wednesday.

However, Mulford denied Clements’ request for $17,200 in legal fees from Brown and Ulman. Clements sought the money claiming it was “bad faith” if Ulman never intended to raise money and never informed the court.

After the hearing, Clements said a January Board of Elections statement “straightened out” Lamone’s original guidance on the election law.

Lamone’s attorney, Andrew D. Levy, said the interpretation of election law that the case challenged was exactly correct. He said the second guidance was not in response to the case and did not, as Clements suggested, straighten out the December ruling that green-lighted fundraising by Ulman during the session.

“The Court chooses not [to] expend any more time and energy on this argument than it already has,” Mulford said, reading the order aloud.

The judge also said there is no evidence to justify awarding attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs had cited a part of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, which says a lawyer should not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal.

In his order, Mulford noted that the defendants’ motions to dismiss the case had a substantial probability of success. In their motions, the defendants argued that the case lacked standing and ripeness — an immediate need for judicial intervention — and failed to state a claim against Brown. Attorneys for Brown, Ulman and Lamone also argued Clements’ case was frivolous and purely a political publicity stunt for Gansler’s benefit.