Former Montgomery County congressional candidate Elizabeth W. Spencer has fired her campaign treasurer, saying the treasurer acknowledged using between $4,000 and $10,000 of her campaign funds to pay his personal debts.
Spencer, last year's losing GOP candidate in Maryland's 8th Congressional District, said she informed the Federal Elections Commission of "discrepancies" in her campaign fund after discovering that her treasurer, Quinn Scamahorn, signed and cashed thousands of dollars in checks without her knowledge.
Spencer said she fired Scamahorn in late April, and began an audit of the books going back four months to the time Scamahorn, formerly her campaign manager, took over the treasurer's job. That audit is not yet complete.
Spencer and her new treasurer, Michael L. Subin, said that Scamahorn met with them at Spencer's Gaithersburg home last week and told them he used the money to pay bills and help his financially ailing consulting firm, Quinn Scamahorn and Associates. They said Scamahorn told them he would pay back the money. "We made it clear that certainly wouldn't be the end of it," Spencer said.
Scamahorn, contacted by telephone Friday, declined to comment.
His lawyer, Steve Silverman, when asked about the Monday meeting and Scamahorn's reported remarks, said, "It is Quinn's perception that they had reached an understanding."
A spokeswoman for the Federal Elections Commission said it is unclear if FEC regulations were violated if campaign funds went for personal use--particularly if the parties made arrangements for repayment.
Spencer's current treasurer, Subin, said a survey of the books uncovered "between 15 and 20" checks Scamahorn signed, unbeknownst to others in the campaign.
Subin said the checks were made out personally either to Scamahorn, to cash, or to his business, Quinn Scamahorn and Associates, a Republican political telemarketing firm. One "cash" check was for $2,000.
It is difficult to know if the checks were for campaign expenses, Subin said. Some of the money, he said, went to reimburse Scamahorn for postal expenses.
Spencer said she first became concerned about her campaign bookkeeping when she discovered in January that she owed more than $5,000 to former Maryland Del. Luiz R. Simmons, who lost the GOP primary for Montgomery County executive.
After Simmons lost his primary, and Spencer won her primary for Congress, Simmons sold her some computer mailing and other lists for $5,250. The lists were not paid for at the time. The lists were turned over to Spencer's campaign headquarters, which was Scamahorn's business office in Silver Spring, Subin said.
By January, Simmons had not yet received his money, and he wrote Spencer a letter asking for it. Spencer said that until she received that letter, she assumed the debt had been settled. She put more than $5,000 of her own savings into the campaign treasury to pay Simmons and to cover the cost of postage for a March fund raiser, she said.
In mid-March, Scamahorn made out a $1,200 campaign check to Spencer to repay some of the loaned money, but that check bounced because of insufficient funds in the campaign's bank account.
Spencer said she then tried unsuccessfully to meet with Scamahorn three times. She fired him in April and hired Subin as treasurer, primarily to settle campaign debts and finish filing reports with the FEC.