The campaign staff of Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening used office space for three years in a building owned by prominent supporters without regularly paying rent or reporting it as a contribution.
But campaign officials say they corrected the omission by belatedly paying $1,680 for the space, which they say was the fair-market value of the office.
The space, used for meetings, computer programming and storage of campaign materials, was in a College Park building owned by K&W Realty. That company was founded by Irving Kidwell, a heavy contributor to Glendening and Democratic Party candidates statewide, and is run by Kidwell's daughter, Cathy.
After a 1987 profile of Kidwell in the Baltimore Sun mentioned the office space, Glendening's campaign paid K&W Realty $1,680.
Glendening's former campaign manager, Ronald Schiff, said the payment made to K&W Realty was based "absolutely on the fair-market value" of the space, which he described as "the size of a walk-in closet."
At the time, K&W was charging $5 per square foot per month to state agencies with long-term leases in the office complex. Glendening campaign officials said they could not recall the square footage of the office, how the rental rate was calculated or exactly when the campaign moved in or out.
Schiff said the campaign erred in not originally reporting the use of the space, which it occupied between Glendening's 1982 and 1986 races. He said he accepts "complete responsibility" for the omission.
"It was an oversight and was paid as soon it was brought to our attention. As soon as Parris heard about it, he said, 'Pay it,' " Schiff said. "We asked the Kidwells what the fair-market price would be and paid them whatever they said it was worth."
Shortly after the payment was made, the campaign vacated the space, officials say. Campaign records show that the campaign paid $350 a month to rent another office in Upper Marlboro, which it used for the same purposes.
Glendening, who has more than $400,000 in his 1990 campaign treasury, said he remembers no details of the rental arrangements, which were handled by his campaign staff. He called the office a "hole in the wall" that was used once or twice for campaign meetings.
"Considering the kind of money Parris can raise legitimately in this county, there would be no reason for us not to pay full price," Schiff said.
Irving Kidwell referred questions about the rental to his daughter. Cathy Kidwell declined to discuss the rental arrangements. "A woman needed a place to work, and I'm a woman, and I found her space. That's all there is to it," she said.
The Kidwells have also provided office space for the county government. Cathy Kidwell represented one of her father's companies in 1987 negotiations with the county for the sale of the Gabriel Duvall Building in Upper Marlboro, located steps from the county administration building. The county's Industrial Development Authority paid $3 million for the building to a partnership that included Irving Kidwell and James Novak, the county's director of public works.
Schiff said there is "no connection whatsoever" between the county's purchase of the Upper Marlboro building and the campaign's use of the College Park office space.
Campaign records show that the Kidwells, who are longtime friends of Glendening, have been among his regular campaign contributors. Glendening's reports show that K&W Realty gave $900 to Glendening while his campaign staff occupied the office space. Irving Kidwell gave another $2,000 through individual and corporate contributions for the 1986 campaign.
Staff writers Richard Tapscott and Lynne Varner contributed to this report.