The Washington Post

Brown campaign won’t say whether Ulman is raising money during legislative session

Howard C ounty Executive Ken Ulman. (Photo by Mark Gail/For The Washington Post)

A week and a half into Maryland’s legislative session, officials with the campaign of Democratic hopeful Anthony G. Brown won’t say whether his running mate is collecting political donations.

Supporters of Brown’s Democratic rival, Douglas F. Gansler, have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) from raising money during the 90-day session. But a judge has yet to schedule a hearing on the matter.

Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, referred questions about Ulman’s fundraising to Susan Smith-Bauk, a finance consultant for Ulman’s campaign committee. Asked whether Ulman has raised money or has plans to do so during the session, Smith-Bauk said only: “As we’ve said in the past, County Executive Ulman will continue to follow Maryland election law.”

The State Board of Elections issued written guidance last month allowing Ulman to raise money during the session even though Brown cannot do so under Maryland law.

The law prohibits statewide officeholders — including Gansler, the state’s attorney general, and Brown, its lieutenant governor — from collecting donations during the session. Members of the state legislature also may not raise money, which means that Gansler’s running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), is subject to the ban, as well.

As county executive, Ulman does not hold a statewide office. But the lawsuit filed Dec. 26 contends that he is forbidden to raise money because, as a candidate for lieutenant governor, he is acting “in coordination” with Brown and therefore is also covered by the ban. Brown and Ulman will appear together on the ballot as a single ticket.

Ulman is under no legal obligation at this point to disclose whether he has raised money since the legislation session began Jan. 8, state elections officials say.

“Candidates don’t have to advertise their fundraisers,” said Jared DeMarinis, director of the state board’s candidacy and campaign finance division.

But Daniel M. Clements, the lawyer handling the lawsuit on behalf of the Gansler supporters, said Ulman should disclose that information because it is central to the ongoing dispute.

No invitations to fundraisers involving Ulman have come to The Post’s attention since the legislative session began. Ulman has also taken down a “donate” button that had been included on a Web site he maintains separately from Brown.

Lawyers for Brown, Ulman and Linda H. Lamone, Maryland’s elections administrator, have all filed motions seeking to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Clements.

On Friday, Clements argued against the motions in a document filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

“Fundraising by the running mate of a gubernatorial candidate who is statutorily prohibited from fundraising during the legislative session most certainly materially affects the purity of the elections process,” Clements wrote.

This week, Brown and Ulman reported that they together had raised about $5.4 million in donations over the past year, more than three times as much as Gansler and Ivey. As a result, Brown and Ulman collectively had nearly $7.1 million to spend on the race as of Jan. 8, while Gansler and Ivey had about $6.3 million.

Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock said the fact that Brown and Ulman trumpeted their combined fundraising total was more evidence that they are acting as a team and that Ulman should be subject to the ban. He accused Gansler’s rivals of “gaming the system.”

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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