Cecil County Commissioners Name Budget Panel; Mullin Picks Smipkin PAC Donor

February 15, 2011

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.]

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2 Responses to Cecil County Commissioners Name Budget Panel; Mullin Picks Smipkin PAC Donor

  1. RED 833 on February 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Deborah Horn should resign. Given the SMIPKIN connection and the Mullin /Dunn pre-emptive budget strikes against Smigiel’s perennial targets– Economic Development and the SPCA– she lacks neutrality and objectivity in evaluating budget cuts. I also understand that she is not a Cecil County resident, so what does she know or care independently?

  2. Al Reasin on February 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    There was no requirement from the Board of Commissioners at the Tuesday working session that the advisory committee members be from Cecil County . I did not think it was necessary to have that requirement, but I guess I was wrong. When I questioned a commissioner later about picking from Cecil County, the response was basically that would be what was wanted. I said jokingly that we should only go outside of Cecil County if there was no one qualified from Cecil and the commissioner agreed. I thought that all of the commissioners felt the same way. I was wrong again. So we only have 4 citizens from Cecil County qualified for the committee?

    I am disappointed in Commissioner Mullin’s selection for another reason. I would have thought that he, and every other commissioner, would forgo political appointments. I wanted the committee to be citizens without an obvious political bent, and while I have no facts to support my opinion, I would expect most Cecil County citizens would as well. Commissioner Dunn has also selected someone with a political background. I do not know either of these appointees, nor do I need to. They may be qualified, but they are suspect, unfortunately, from the get go. These two appointments to the advisory committee will not give the committee the creditability I wanted and what I had hoped the commissioners wanted as well.

    I did not expect apolitical appointees, but appointing people with a very political background is one way to destroy the idea of direct citizen involvement in Cecil government.

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