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Closing a Loophole on Campaign Money

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said yesterday that he will push to close a loophole that allowed lawmakers to raise a reported half-million dollars in campaign contributions during November's 21-day special session.

Raising money during the legislature's 90-day annual session is prohibited by law, but no such prohibition exists for special sessions. The Baltimore Sun reported over the weekend that those logging contributions during the November session included Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's), chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee. Currie and a spokesman for O'Malley said the checks were received before the start of the session but not recorded until later.

"We have to avoid even the appearance of impropriety," Miller told reporters yesterday.

Lawmakers were counseled by an ethics adviser to avoid conflicts but were told that they could proceed with fundraisers during the special session if they had been previously scheduled.

Among those who did that was Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), who reported that much of the $42,205 he raised had come in during the session. Raskin said he had been planning the fundraiser for months and did not solicit money from anyone with issues pending in the session.

But he added: "It's possible for campaign contributions to corrupt outside of the session, and it's possible for them not to corrupt during a session."

By Phyllis Jordan  |  January 23, 2008; 9:33 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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Comments

It is also possible to change the date of a fundraiser scheduled during the session to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The crucial vote in the Senate was 24-23 with Raskin voting in favor. Did anybody with an interest in the outcome, whom he did not "solicit," make a contribution?

Posted by: Oh, Oh, | January 24, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

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