By Glynis Kazanjian
A super political action committee under review for possibly prohibited coordination between the campaign of Democrat Anthony Brown and his chief fundraiser transferred the bulk of its remaining funds — $250,000 — in mid-October to a federal super committee now running attack ads against Brown’s Republican rival.
While state election officials would not confirm or deny the PAC “One State One Future” was temporarily required to halt campaign activities as a result of the investigation, One State One Future has not reported any major expenditures since late July.
Allegations of potential coordination were first brought to light in June by Attorney General Douglas Gansler who was challenging Lt. Gov. Brown in the Democratic primary election.
When asked if the state election board asked One State One Future to halt its campaign activities until the investigation had been completed, Jared DeMarinis, director of Candidacy and Campaign Finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections said, “I don’t think that’s a question I wish to answer.”
DeMarinis said the only state agency that has the ability to order someone to stop conducting activities prior to or during an election is the office of the Secretary of State.
$250,000 transferred to another attack PAC
One State One Future transferred $250,000 to the super PAC America’s Families First Action Fund in mid-October. The federal super PAC also received another $250,000 from AFSCME, the largest union representing state employees.
Multiple efforts to get an explanation from the office of Secretary of State John McDonough, a Democrat who is supporting Brown, were not returned. Requests made to One State One Future were also not returned.
The Hogan for Governor campaign filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections Sept. 4 alleging Brown’s political fundraiser, Martin-Lauer Associates, and One State One Future PAC have been coordinating and cooperating on Brown’s behalf.
Martin-Lauer is the chief political fundraiser for Brown and also received $20,000 in consulting fees from One State One Future for work conducted from January to May, 2014.
Rules for super PACs
According to the Center for Responsive Government, by law, super PACs must remain independent, and agents representing them are prohibited from collaborating directly with political candidates or agents of candidates.
Unlike traditional political action committees, super PACs may not donate money directly to political candidates.
Super PACs, technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and can spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates.
DeMarinis said complaints that are beyond the scope of the State Board of Elections and warrant further investigation are referred to the state prosecutor. However, the state prosecutor’s office and the state elections office generally do not to comment or even confirm pending investigations.
DeMarinis declined to comment on the status of the Hogan complaint only stating that the review was “still in the process” and there was no set time frame for its completion.