Former Del. Tiffany T. Alston had some unfinished business to attend to at the Maryland State Board of Elections this week before putting in her paperwork for a comeback bid, a board official said Thursday.
Alston, who was forced from office following a theft conviction, owed $750 in late fees that had been levied by the board against her campaign treasury for its failure to file timely campaign finance reports, according to Jared DeMarinis, director of the division of Candidacy and Campaign Finance.
DeMarinis said Alston told him that she had been caught up in her legal troubles and just assumed her campaign account — “Friends of Tiffany Alston” — had been closed when she wrapped up her court cases.
Alston forked over $250 just 20 minutes before Tuesday’s deadline to file as a candidate, DeMarinis said, and filed three overdue campaign finance documents. She asked DeMarinis if the board would waive the remaining $500 in fees.
DeMarinis told Alston he would take her request to the board, which he did Thursday during the board’s regular meeting. DeMarinis told board members his office is sometimes willing to reduce late fees, particularly for first-time offenders.
“Would you consider her a first-timer?” board member Rachel T. McGuckian (D) asked.
Not exactly, DeMarinis answered. He said Alston had incurred late fees in the past.
McGuckian also wondered whether Alston had made any effort to pay up before this week. Alston had not, DeMarinis said.
McGuckian urged the board to deny the waiver.
But Board of Elections chairman Bobbie S. Mack (D) took pity, saying that Alston must have had a lot on her mind besides campaign reporting requirements over the last 18 months. She urged the board to grant the request, and the board agreed.
Alston was removed from the House of Delegates in October 2012 after an Anne Arundel County jury found her guilty of theft and misconduct in office. She had been charged with stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her private law firm.
Following the successful completion of a sentence that included restitution and community service, her record was wiped clean.
Alston on Tuesday entered a field of 10 Democratic candidates seeking the three seats representing District 24. All three incumbents are running, including Dels. Carolyn J.B. Howard (D-Prince George’s), Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) and Darren M. Swain (D-Prince George’s), whom Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) appointed to fill the remainder of Alston’s term.
A call to Alston’s home late Thursday seeking comment on the late fees wasn’t immediately returned.