Montgomery County's powerful state's attorney has sent a letter to about 2,000 lawyers in the county asking for contributions to Neal Potter's county executive campaign, raising questions about the involvement of the prosecutor's office in the race.
The letter, dated Aug. 7, praises Potter, a veteran County Council member, for his policies of slow growth and "his candor and integrity" as he tries to unseat incumbent Sidney Kramer.
Saying that Kramer will receive large contributions from developers, the letter asks for help in raising $50,000 for the Potter campaign, and is signed by Andrew L. Sonner, the county's state's attorney and a longtime Kramer foe, and Robert L. Dean, an assistant state's attorney. They are identified only as "chairs" of Lawyers for Neal Potter for County Executive.
The letter also states that anyone interested in speaking to Potter or having "an informal group discussion" should contact Dean at his county office telephone number -- a statement that rankled the Kramer camp.
"We have been extremely careful not to involve people in the county government on the taxpayers' time," said Lanny Davis, Kramer's campaign manager. "We assume that Mr. Potter and Mr. Sonner are doing the same . . . . If the letter suggests otherwise, it certainly raises questions."
Potter, whose surprise campaign came after early speculation that Sonner might run against Kramer, said he does not think the letter sent the wrong message. It was described as the work of a committee of lawyers who support Potter.
"I don't see any impropriety," Potter said. "If it said, 'Send your money to Andy Sonner's office,' that would be an impropriety. But there is no indication of any pressure. I've never known Andy to pressure anybody.
"I think the main question is count time," he said. "If Bob Dean spent half an hour on me, then he should take half an hour off, and I'm sure he did."
Sonner, who was out of town, and Dean could not be reached for comment.