O'MALLEY-BROWN CAMPAIGN

Nearly $100,000 In Contributions Is Returned To Moviemaker

The campaign of Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), above, and Gov. Martin O'Malley returned contributions to James G. Robinson, right, because the funds exceeded legal limits.
The campaign of Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), above, and Gov. Martin O'Malley returned contributions to James G. Robinson, right, because the funds exceeded legal limits. (By Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)

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By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 22, 2007

The campaign committees of Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown have returned nearly $100,000 to James G. Robinson, a movie producer who lives in Baltimore, because the contributions greatly exceeded what is allowed by law.

In a letter sent last month to Robinson, O'Malley's treasurer, Martin F. Cadogan, said campaign officials had recently discovered that Robinson was the sole stockholder in several corporations that contributed to the two committees.

Under Maryland law, corporations that share identical stockholders are viewed as a single entity and are limited to collectively donating $4,000 to a campaign committee during an election cycle.

Cadogan said he was returning nine donations, totaling $34,000, to O'Malley's committee and 16 donations, totaling $62,000, to Brown's committee. Although the Democrats ran as a ticket, O'Malley and Brown can legally maintain separate campaign accounts, with donors allowed to contribute the $4,000 maximum to each.

"We regret that there was confusion regarding the ability of corporations to make campaign contributions," Cadogan wrote in his letter, dated Aug. 13.

O'Malley aides declined to comment further.

The returned contributions also show up in a report filed Aug. 31 with the State Board of Elections.

Robinson is the chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Creek Productions. His credits as a producer include "The Good Shepherd," "Man of the Year" and two "Ace Ventura" films. Associates at Robinson's Los Angeles and Baltimore offices said yesterday that he was traveling and unavailable.

The rule that treats corporations with the same stockholders as a single entity does not apply to other types of businesses, such as limited liability companies.

In Maryland, limits on giving by businesses are routinely circumvented by people who set up multiple limited liability companies that each give the maximum allowed to the same candidate. Robinson's multiple businesses appear to have been set up as corporations, however.

Robinson also has donated money in recent years to other Democratic candidates, including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (Md.) and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md.), and to Democratic Party committees.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.


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