State law sets a cap of $6,000 on transfers between PACs.
Empower PAC has a District address but is registered in Delaware.
In a complaint submitted to the state by email, Floreen campaign chair Sally Sternbach called the contribution “clearly illegal.”
“We hereby request the Board take appropriate action immediately to address what appears to be a clear violation of Maryland campaign finance law,” she wrote.
Jared DeMarinis, the state board’s director of candidacy and campaign finance, declined to comment on the specific case. But he said that in general, contributions over the limit would be referred to the state prosecutor’s office.
Eric Hensal, a spokesman for Montgomery Neighbors, acknowledged that the contribution his group received was too high.
“We screwed up,” Hensal said Friday. He said the mistake occurred because volunteers with his group thought they had registered it as a super PAC — which, unlike a PAC, is allowed to accept unlimited amounts of money.
He said that his group tried to re-register as a super PAC once the error was discovered but that the state would not allow it to do so.
Hensal said his group then decided to file the report showing the over-the-limit contribution. The filing shows that Montgomery Neighbors raised $13,910 in addition to the Empower money and spent just under $28,000 on mailings, graphic design and credit card processing fees.
“We’ve made the mistake; the money has been spent,” he said. “We will pay the piper on the other end — whatever the board decides we need to do.”
Empower’s treasurer, Gino Renne, also is president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994 MCGEO, the union that represents Montgomery County service workers. MCGEO has endorsed Floreen’s opponent Marc Elrich (D).
Renne called the contribution an “honest mistake” and said his group gave the money to Montgomery Neighbors on the assumption that it was a super PAC.
“They asked if we could help with their mailer, and of course that mailer is pursuing the same objective we are: getting Marc Elrich elected,” Renne said. “So we simply cut the check and sent it to them.”
He said his group would abide by whatever decision the state makes on the overcontribution.
Last month, a Gaithersburg resident filed a complaint with the state alleging that Floreen accepted corporate donations from entities that appeared to be affiliated with each other, exceeding the legal limit of $6,000.
Floreen’s campaign returned $18,000 in contributions to four of the entities after the complaint. All four listed the same address as Foulger-Pratt, a real estate development firm involved in many major projects in Montgomery County.