Well, this is an interesting case indeed.
It seems that a Catonsville developer flouted campaign contribution laws by soliciting associates of his to make “straw donations” on his behalf to a Democratic Baltimore County Council member. Multiple reports relate that Stephen Whalen is on the hook for over $50,000 in fines for these transgressions.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe in campaign contribution limits so the Whalen conviction was a witch hunt of sorts. Yet there is a side to the story which should be exposed and that’s the sheer number of candidates and slates that Whalen and his companies made nearly $200,000 in contributions to over the last several years. Most of us who follow the law know that the limit for a state election cycle is $4,000 in donations to a particular candidate and $10,000 in total for the cycle.
David Ferguson of the MDGOP sent me a list of those who benefited from the largess, and it reads like a who’s who of Baltimore-area Democratic politics (with a couple exceptions.) Let’s start from the top, shall we?
- Democratic National Committee
- National Association Industrial & Office Parks PAC
- President Barack Obama
- Former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
- Congressman Elijah Cummings (7th District)
- Former Congressman Frank Kratovil (1st District)
- Governor Martin O’Malley
- Comptroller Peter Franchot
- State Senator Delores Kelly
- State Senator Edward Kasemeyer
- House Speaker Delegate Michael Busch
- Delegate Emmitt Burns
- Delegate Adrienne Jones
- Delegate Stephen DeBoy
- Delegate James Malone
- Delegate Stephen Lafferty
- Delegate Peter Hammen
- 23rd District Slate
- District 12A Slate
- Howard County Executive Ken Ulman
- Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz
- Former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith
- Baltimore County Council member Vicki Almond
- Baltimore County Council member Kenneth Oliver
- Baltimore County Council member Cathy Bevins
It’s not the whole list, as there were a few primary losers in the bunch. There were also five Republicans named, with Bob Ehrlich and Baltimore County Council members David Marks and Todd Huff the three winners among the group. (Marks has returned his contributions from Whalen.)
Ferguson condemned the Democrats who have been recipients of over 95% of Whalen’s generosity. In a statement, the MDGOP’s Executive Director says:
Those who have received contributions from Stephen Whalen should follow the lead of Baltimore County Councilman David Marks and return his dirty contributions. Whalen gave over 96% of his contributions to Democrats and it is unacceptable for nearly $200,000 to be floating through the Democrat Party’s coffers from an individual convicted of political corruption.
Stephen Whalen’s conviction is another consequence of Maryland being a political monopoly for Democrats and their cronies. Unfortunately, this culture of corruption is standard operating procedure for crooked politicians and donors like Stephen Whalen looking to pay-for-play. For six years, Martin O’Malley and his allies have willfully embraced the lack of ethics in their government.
There’s no doubt that money may have been the lubricant for Whalen to grease the skids on getting his developments built: his company’s website states they specialize in medical office space around the outskirts of Baltimore.
(I find it somewhat ironic, then, that he supports many of the same Democrats who have voted to curtail growth in rural and suburban areas. Perhaps there’s more infrastructure in areas Whalen is interested in.)
So once again the state’s majority party is caught with its hand in the cookie jar, but do they condemn this violation of the law? No, they’d rather take potshots at Andy Harris for voting against a pork-laden hurricane relief bill. Their silence on the transgression is deafening and speaks volumes about the corruption they’re happy to put up with for political gain.