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County exec candidate Baker fires back on slate donors issue

After taking heat from a rival over not disclosing the source of more than $200,000 in campaign funds, the campaign of Prince George's County Executive candidate Rushern L. Baker III blasted back today with a lengthy e-mail to supporters, casting his detractors as hypocrites and the media as cynical.

Del. Gerron S Levi (D-Prince George's), who is also running for county executive, has recently attacked Baker for accepting a $206,000 transfer of funds from a recently formed slate called County 1 Now, and then using a "loophole" in campaign finance law to avoid reporting the donors right away.

Because of how recently the slate--a group of candidates who raise money collectively--was formed, County 1 Now won't be required to file its finances until August. Levi filed state legislation this week to address that rule. (Click here for the text of the bill.)

The Gazette newspaper also criticized Baker in Thursday's edition.

After Baker declined to comment on the matter to the Washington Post through a spokesman Thursday, his campaign sent the e-mail message below, accusing his rivals of "sour grapes" and "would-be reporters" of employing "innuendo."

"Recent statements implying that the successful fund raising effort of The Baker for County Executive Campaign and the recently formed County 1 Now Slate are either unethical or in any way attempted to circumvent the spirit or intent of state campaign finance law are false, disingenuous, insulting, and hypocritical," the statement reads.

A request for comment from Baker directly was not immediately returned Friday.

The full statement is below.

Full statement:

RUSHERNBAKER 2010

FUND RAISING FACTS VERSUS FAKE OUTRAGE
Path to Progress in Prince George's Confronts Distortions and Distractions


TEAM BAKER'S UNREPORTED TRUTH ALERT
FEBRUARY 19, 2010


What we are dealing with is innuendo disguised as journalism and political sour grapes from those that cannot find support for their inferior campaigns.


Largo, MD - Here we go, again. We told you the race for positive change in Prince George's County would have to prevail in a tough, sometimes nasty campaign. We warned that your belief that we can be first in education and last in crime would have to survive a journey filled with complications and obstacles. Today, as our children walk in the streets of our county - because many of our sidewalks have not be cleared of snow - to a school system that plunged to last in the state, the priority of some County Executive candidates and cynical reporters is the politics of distraction and distortion.

It's time to set the record straight. Recent statements implying that the successful fund raising effort of The Baker for County Executive Campaign and the recently formed County 1 Now Slate are either unethical or in any way attempted to circumvent the spirit or intent of state campaign finance law are false, disingenuous, insulting, and hypocritical. The Baker Campaign summarily rejects any attempt to apply one set of rules to Rushern Baker and The Baker Campaign, that was not applied to every candidate or campaign committee.

If you want a different kind of political campaign season in Prince George's County; if you want to see your dollars invested not just in attacks and yard signs, but a real results-based, optimistic vision and plan of what we can become- a county of the first rank, then you'll need to remain vigilant and arm yourself with the facts.

Team Baker's Unreported Truth News Alerts will help you keep the message of positive change in the forefront and fight the falsehoods and fabrications. We must continue to look forward and work hard. We have a long way to go.


THE FACTS


FACT: Each candidate for county executive has a slate. Rushern Baker was the last candidate for county executive after 16 years of public service to form or join one. The County 1 Now slate was not formed until January, 2010.

FACT: None of the slates or candidates have ever reported their donors immediately after they received contributions though all had the opportunity to do so in the year 2009, while securing funds for their campaigns for County Executive;

FACT: None of the candidates for County Executive voiced any concern about the process or law governing reporting, despite having used the system by being members of slates for many years, until the movement to elect Rushern Baker County Executive far exceeded their efforts at every dollar level;

FACT: The concern about sources of contributions is a false one; of course the voters have a right to know and all donors are made public by all campaigns during the same filing period, which under Maryland state law is August 15, 2010 for any entity formed in 2010 and any contributions raised in 2010 for anyone on the ballot in the upcoming primary; that's a full month before the Democratic Primary Election in Prince George's County;

FACT: By transferring dollars from the slate to his campaign committee, Rushern Baker made public that he had formed a slate, though he was not required to do so by law; This after the Baker team contacted the State Board of Elections and were informed that the newly-formed County 1 Now slate would be not allowed to file a campaign finance report in January of 2010;

FACT: It is against "the spirit" and intent of state law for a sitting member of the Maryland House of Delegates to raise funds while the legislative body is in session; Rushern Baker, while a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 2002, suspended all his campaign fund raising for County Executive during the legislative session, despite the severe political and practical disadvantage it posed for his campaign;

FACT: During his 16 years of public service, Rushern Baker has always complied with every financial reporting requirement of the state of Maryland and has never violated the spirit or intent of the law; he has followed and continues to follow the rules;

FACT: A current member of the Maryland House of Delegates is still requesting donations for her campaign via her website and possibly through other means, while that legislative body is in session, a clear violation of state law;

FACT: The $206,000 transferred from the newly-formed slate to the Baker campaign committee is not even close to the most money every raised during a week of fund raising in Prince George's County politics. In the past, candidates have publicly boasted raising greater amounts in an evening and none were asked to immediately disclose a list of their donors for use by their rivals or the media, even though some were incumbents with the immediate ability to influence policy and outcomes;

FACT: Every candidate for county executive formed or joined a slate with the intention of raising as much money as possible from business, community organizations, political action committees, unions, and individuals. No candidate announced any restrictions on dollars they would accept or the means in which they would accept them; none indicated any displeasure with slates' ability to transfer or raise funds; none publicly posted their donations has they received them and none called for campaign finance reform in any meaningful way;

FACT: The Baker Campaign, by far has the most diverse cross section of donors and had greater success attracting investment in its campaign at every dollar level. Revealing donors before required by law, while opponents are not required to do the same, creates a political and strategic advantage for opposing campaigns;

FACT: The Baker campaign had more donors under $300 than all the other campaigns combined.


Rushern Baker's quest to bring positive change to Prince George's succeeds because you believe we can do better than we have and deserve more that we get.


www.rushernbaker.com
Friends of Rushern Baker, P.O. Box 1331 Greenbelt, Maryland 20768
By Authority: Bradford Seamon, Treasurer

Perspective


Each candidate for County Executive claims they can attract jobs and business to Prince George's County. Question: If a candidate can't attract business and significant investment in their campaigns, why should somebody believe they can attract business and investment in Prince George's County?


We reject the premise that money buys Rushern Baker's interest. Neither Prince George's County nor Rushern Baker are for sale.

Each time the media portrays us as less ethical than we are, as more violent than we are, and takes our success and cast it in a negative light, it is an attack against Prince George's County as a whole. There is no wrong doing and no attempt at wrong doing in the Baker camp. These would-be reporters know that. What we have is a continued application of a cynical and negative portrayal of Prince George's County.

There is a tacit implication that Rushern Baker puts greater value on one class of donor over the other. That's patently untrue, Rushern works hard for every donation and treats each with humility.

The only thing Rushern Baker has ever promised a donor is good government and a county of the first rank, period.

There are other, more important indicators of character in this race.
When three feet of snow hit this county Rushern Baker was the only candidate who used his back as well as his volunteer and donor base to shovel out scores of senior's citizens and other residents with physical limitations.

Political challengers who today raise questions about ethics, and for years have raised thousands of dollars for their slates, failed to raise their shovels to help neighbors in need.

Last year, The Baker Campaign sent a message that we can do more than buy yard signs and engage in traditional campaign politics: with your support, we raised funds for victims of domestic violence, provided recreational opportunities for hundreds of kids, and gave much needed help with gas and groceries to several families in Prince George's County. No cameras. No Press; just sending a message that campaigns can be about a positive vision of our county. Ask the many people that made their dialysis appointments last week because Rushern Baker personally dug them out, if they questions his integrity.


Stop what you're doing and show your support for positive change in Prince George's County by visiting our website and making your donation today. We will continue to revolutionize campaign politics in Prince George's County. With your small donation, you can put us on the path to being first in education and last in crime. Donate now.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  February 19, 2010; 3:09 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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Comments

Rushern "thou protest too much" come clean put out a list of contributors to the slate and the matter is settled and stops being an issue. Unless there is something to hide just put out the info. P.S. We don't care what other candidates for the past 16 yrs have done- look where it has gotten us!

Posted by: agwilson1399 | February 20, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

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