By Barry Rascovar
When you are caught with your thumb in the cherry pie, what do you say?
“Ma, look what Mikey’s doing! He’s up to no good.”
That diversionary tactic doesn’t work on moms, and Anthony Brown’s finger-pointing tactic doesn’t work, either.
Brown may have a serious campaign fundraising violation to explain to the state elections board.
So what does he say?
He accuses his Republican foe, Larry Hogan Jr., of low-balling his monthly rental fee for a recreation vehicle decked out in campaign logos.
Why, Hogan should be paying a lot more than $683.77 a month to fully reflect the cost of operating this mobile campaign headquarters, Brown’s operatives complain.
What a bunch of malarkey.
What is reasonable?
A state elections official has already said covering the full monthly payments on Hogan’s bus — which Hogan owns and is renting to the campaign — qualifies as a “reasonable” standard.
What it costs to fill up this gas-guzzling Windsport daily and oil, grease and repair the recreation vehicle for heavy-duty operation through Nov. 4 isn’t part of the rental agreement. That’s something the Hogan campaign must cover anyway.
So in effect, Hogan’s operatives are already paying “fair market value.”
Brown’s ploy is a canard, a decoy designed to shift media focus from the serious complaint Hogan lodged against the Democrat — coordinating fund-raising efforts of his campaign with that of a labor-supported, independent Super-PAC (Political Action Committee).
That’s illegal, according to the Supreme Court. The Maryland elections board already has said campaigns cannot share with independent Super-PACS “campaign material, strategy or information.”
The problem for Brown is that one of his chief fundraisers, Colleen Martin-Lauer, is also the fundraising coordinator for the supposedly independent labor Super-PAC that is designed to boost Brown. Hogan’s folks maintain it is “simply impossible” for Martin-Lauer and a second joint fund-raiser not to coordinate their solicitation efforts.
Brown did the same thing (overlapping fundraisers) in the primary election and got away with it. But what if he runs afoul of the Supreme Court’s difficult-to-enforce edict? It could impair his ability to raise as much money as he had hoped.
Millions could be at stake in that complaint. Thousands could be at stake in Brown’s penny-ante subterfuge against Hogan.
It is just another sign of the insipid tactics being employed in this campaign, especially by Brown’s team, which has not hesitated to smear Hogan with blatantly false accusations.
Barry Rascovar’s blog is www.politicalmaryland.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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