Cecil County Politics: Dems Account for Party Committee Finances but GOP Committee Posts Anonymous Cash
They ran for the Cecil County Republican Central Committee in 2010 as the âFiscal Conservativeâ slate but the latest campaign finance report to the state Board of Elections shows a mysterious myriad of anonymous cash flowing into the GOP account.
In contrast, the Cecil County Democratic Central Committee accounts for every penny it has received in the past year from donations and event ticket purchases and specifies expenditures for fundraising events.
In the 2010 election, the âFiscal Conservativeâ slate organized by the Smipkin political organization tied to Sen. E.J. Pipkin and Del. Michael Smigiel, both R-36, swept to control seven of the nine seats on the local GOP central committee.
The treasurer of the GOP central committee is Carrie Taylor, who ran on the Smipkin slate and was installed in a salaried seat on the county liquor board by a Smipkin-linked majority of the Cecil County Commissioners. The chairman of the GOP central committee is Chris Zeauskas, who ran on the same slate and recently was proposed for a seat on the Charter government advisory panel.
Party Central Committees are supposed to engage in fundraising and party-building activities, conduct voter registration drives, and in general election season donate to candidates for local office who are members of their political party.
The Republican committee is known to have held a sparsely attended cocktail party last spring and sold barbecued chicken at the summertime county fair, which is a long-standing tradition of GOP central committees in the past. But the required campaign finance report for 2011, covering finances from 1/13/11 through 1/11/12, shows mostly anonymous cash donations, including a last-minute infusion of cash in December, 2011, just before the filing deadline.
At the start of 2011, the GOP committee had a zero bank balance. The report lists $5,276 in new contributions and $567 in checks from political clubs, for a total of $5,843. It lists no expenses. But in an unexplained discrepancy, the report says the committee only had $2,260 in its bank account at the time the new report was filed this month.
Of the $5,276 in contributions, only $951 is accounted for by names of donors, including $130 from County Commissioner James Mullin (R-1), a member of the central committee and ally of the Smipkin machine. The largest attributed donation was $300 from Aspen Property Management of Elkton. The identified donations are dated around the time of a May cocktail event.
But the vast majority of the money listed on the GOP report is tagged as âcashâ and âunknownâ donor. Some of the âcashâ might be attributable to sales of chicken at the fair, but the report lists no expenses to buy chicken and no âin-kindâ donations of food or supplies for that event. And, unless they were selling leftover frozen chicken in chilly December, the barbeque would not account for two sudden infusions of anonymous cash: $1,190 on 12/14/11 and $400 on 12/8/11.
State election law states that âanonymous contributions are strictly prohibited.â On cash donations, an individual may make cash contributions up to a $100 maximum in a four-year period. And any donation over $100 must be made by check or credit card.
The GOP committee report also shows some attributed donations by checks from political candidates tied to the Smipkin organization, including $100 from Smigiel and $60 from Pipkin. Del. Steve Hershey, also R-36, who was elected with Smipkin support, donated $130.
In sharp contrast to the Republicans, the Cecil County Democratic Central Committee filed a copiously detailed finance report, showing $4,510 in receipts from ticket purchases and a $300 donation from the Cecil County Democrat Club. That totaled $4,810, plus a carry-over bank balance of $503. After expenses, the Democrats netted $2,928 for their cash on hand balance.
The Democrats held a fundraiser at the Singerly fire hall, paying $1,800 for hall rental and food services. Other expenses included printing and advertising.
The Democrats accounted for, by name, purchasers of $30 event tickets, whether they paid by cash or check. There were no anonymous listings.
The contrast between the two Central Committee financial reports is startling. Perhaps the Republican committee needs to consider hiring a Democratic accountant.