Cecil County Commissioners Name Budget Panel; Mullin Picks Smipkin PAC Donor
After weeks of discussion and hand-wringing, the Cecil County Board of Commissioners finally named a five-member budget advisory panel Tuesday, with some Commissioners picking people with impressive credentials while Board President James Mullin (R-1st) picked a major donor to his political allies’ Political Action Committee.
The Commissioners have been discussing appointment of a budget advisory panel for weeks and a majority had decided that each of the five Commissioners would name one person to the group, which would not have any legal powers or authority but would simply advise the Commissioners on possible budget cuts.
Commissioners Robert Hodge (R-5) and Diana Broomell (R-4) announced choices with impressive budget and economics experience.
Hodge selected James Butkiewicz, who is a professor of economics at the University of Delaware and a former chairman of the Cecil County Economic Development Commission. He is a resident of the northern Elkton area. Broomell selected Gary Benjamin, of Conowingo, who has been a cost and budget analyst for over 25 years at the Edgewood Arsenal/Aberdeen Proving Ground military facility in Harford County. He also owns a tree farm in Cecil County.
Commissioner Tari Moore (R-2) selected Bill Johnson, of North East, who is retired from a long career with National Vulcanized Fiber Co., in the sales division and as a quality control manager.
Commissioner Michael Dunn (R-3) selected Michael Halter, a lawyer and former deputy State’s Attorney for Cecil County. Halter lost the Republican primary for State’s Attorney in the September 2010 primary election. The Cecil Times interviewed Halter in that contest here:
Halter had submitted a letter to all the County Commissioners expressing his interest in serving on the budget advisory panel. Although he has no substantive experience in county budget matters, Halter is considered by many to be a rising Republican star in the county.
Commissioners’ Board President Mullin selected Deborah Horn, who he identified to Cecil Times as a Certified Public Accountant and a resident of his District 1 representation area.
A search of State campaign finance records and other databases show that Deborah Horn is in fact a major donor to the Republicans of Cecil Political Action Committee and a resident of Newark, Delaware. Mullin himself was the major bankroller of the Republicans of Cecil PAC, which raised funds to support the candidacies of Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and their slate of candidates for county commissioner seats and the Cecil County Republican Central Committee in the 2010 elections.
State election records show that Deborah Horn, of Newark, DE, contributed $1,500 to the Republicans of Cecil PAC on 9/1/10. See report here: http://www.mdelections.org/campaign-finance/advanced-search/sumctprocess.php?fsk=A00000882320100003&acctno=A8823&coln=4
Other databases show that Deborah Horn is listed as a CPA with the Delaware accounting firm of Rowland, Johnson & Company, specializing in small business accounting.
Mullin himself, and through his Delaware-based appraisal business, was the major $3,000 contributor to the Republicans of Cecil PAC and other Republican campaign committees aligned with the Smipkin political machine in the 2010 elections. He also contributed to the “Fiscal Conservative” slate of candidates organized by the Smipkin group. [See link to some of Mullin’s recent contributions here:
and here: http://tinyurl.com/4e8zn9c
Ms. Horn might have substantive contributions to make to the budget advisory panel, but her political financial “contributions” indicate that the reasons for her selection have more to do with political loyalty.
[Editor's Note: Document hyperlinks on this article were incorrect earlier. We're a little lame about hyperlinking long data links and using a link shortening software. Sorry for any confusion but the links appear to work now.]