On the eve of Maryland’s legislative session, gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler took the unusual step Tuesday of asking the running mate of his chief Democratic rival, Anthony G. Brown, to refrain from raising money in the coming 90 days.
Gansler, the state’s attorney general, said that Brown, the state’s lieutenant governor, risks making a “mockery” of Maryland law if Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) follows through with plans to solicit contributions during the session.
Maryland election law explicitly prohibits legislators and statewide officials — including Gansler and Brown — from raising money during the annual legislative session. The State Board of Elections recently ruled that the ban does not apply to Ulman, but Gansler has argued the board misinterpreted the law.
“It is impossible to split a ticket in two,” Gansler said in an “open letter” sent to Brown and Ulman on Tuesday. “Everyone who contributes to Mr. Ulman during the session knows that he is just one half of a two-person operation – that is why he is called a ‘running mate’ – and so everyone knows that by financially supporting his candidacy, they are supporting your ticket.”
The letter was also signed by Gansler’s running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), who as a legislator is subject to the fundraising ban.
In a brief interview Tuesday afternoon, Brown said he had not seen the letter but plans to abide by the interpretation of the law offered by the elections board.
“Raising money for Ken Ulman during the legislative session is an option,” Brown said during an appearance at an annual Maryland Democratic Party luncheon in Annapolis.
Gansler did not appear at the luncheon Tuesday. A spokesman said he was finishing up a previously planned family vacation.
The fundraising dispute is also the subject of a lawsuit, but it appears to have little chance of getting resolved by the time the legislative session begins on Wednesday.
The suit, filed by Gansler supporters, argues that because Ulman has filed to run for lieutenant governor on Brown’s ticket and is acting in “coordination” with Brown, he is subject to the fundraising ban as well.
Daniel M. Clements, a lawyer for the Gansler supporters, has been seeking an emergency hearing on the case. But as of Tuesday, nothing had been scheduled in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, where the suit was filed.
The lawsuit names Brown, Ulman and the state elections administrator as defendants. Ulman has retained Timothy F. Maloney, a former state legislator, to represent him.