Cecil County Politics: Dems Account for Party Committee Finances but GOP Committee Posts Anonymous Cash

January 28, 2012
By

They ran for the Cecil County Republican Central Committee in 2010 as the “Fiscal Conservative” 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 “Fiscal Conservative” 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 “cash” and “unknown” donor. Some of the ‘cash’ might be attributable to sales of chicken at the fair, but the report lists no expenses to buy chicken and no ‘in-kind” 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 “anonymous contributions are strictly prohibited.” 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.

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23 Responses to Cecil County Politics: Dems Account for Party Committee Finances but GOP Committee Posts Anonymous Cash

  1. Natalie Ricci on January 28, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Since state election law specifically prohibits anonymous donations, to whom does this article need to come to the attention of for action by state officials?

  2. Diane on January 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Just thank God that completely incompetent Carrie Taylor didn’t win the Treasurer’s position for Cecil County. Voters, this is the reason we should all vet candidates as much as possible! This is just incredulous; those voters who support Carrie Taylor for Cecil County Republican Central Committee should demand accountability immediately.

  3. Rick O'Shea on January 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I think that people are drawing a clear distinction between Republicans and Smipkins. It hardly matters whether the inaccurate financial reporting is due to incompetence or is intentional. They clearly have not followed the rules. As pointed out in the article, they are derelict in their duty for their dismal performance.

  4. SHH 124 on January 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Looking back at all the SMIPKIN Fiscal Conservative Team advertising and hype regarding the Republican Central Committee Slate is interesting. They were portrayed as being able to “hit the the ground running.” Too bad they have been running away from their duties and responsibilities.

  5. Tidewater on January 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Perhaps Democrats are more narcissistic than Republicans or maybe people realize that we vote in secret for a good reason and want to donate in secret for similar reasons. Either way, its none of anybodies business what people do with their money.

    I hope your eyeballs hurt from analyzing such useless BS.

    • Ron Lobos on February 3, 2012 at 7:31 am

      That seems like a good reason to break the law. (not) Tidewater, you make it sound like you’re in the pocket of the Smipkin gang. You need to wake up and realize that there are rules, laws and guidelines that need to be followed for acountability sake.

      The reason that it is important that names and amounts need to be disclosed is that there needs to be a system of checks and balances in place. This helps to ensure that no one person is able to buy influence. For example, no one wants any elected official to have the power to put his own puppets into office and control a whole county just because he has money. I think you are smart enough to understand this but have let your skewed ideologies get in the way.

    • john u on February 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Donating to any political campaigns, advertising, etc. should not be secret or anonymous; if you actually believe the BS you financially support you should be willing to put your name where your money is. Anyway, if they have violated state law, they should be investigated and the appropriate fines or criminal charges should be brought. Also, the Republicans are the party of I, me, mine; that is narcissim.

    • Jackie on February 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Tedwater, you may not think it is important for the Republican citizens of the county whom you were elected to represent to have accurate and transparent accounting, but I bet the Republican voters of the county feel differently. I know this one is embarrassed by this behavior.

      The current RCCC has done nothing on behalf of the party or voters in the county. You think they’d find time to at least keep their accounting records straight. Then again, knowing the financial history of some of the committee’s leadership, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by the fiscal incompetence.

      • Tidewater on February 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

        Stop looking for the government to do everything for you Jackie and just help us get them out of the way.

        Only RINOs and Democrats care about this crap. Real Republicans know its just burdensome regulations to keep people economic slaves to the government.

        • Jackie on February 16, 2012 at 2:49 am

          Tedwater, your first statement is very curious. What exactly do I want the government to do for me? I’ve never been accused of that one before. “Help us get them out of the way?” I haven’t seen you publicly since 2010, and even then I barely saw you. I thought maybe at some point over the past 2 years you might show up at a Tuesday worksession, or at a Citizen’s Corner, or at a Tuesday evening public meeting, but you have been MIA for a very long time.

          So what exactly do you need help with, sitting at home and blogging half truths and utter falsehoods to suit your personal agenda? You say only RINOS care about transparency and election laws being followed, and the elected Central Committee actually doing what they were elected to do? Wow, you have some very bizzare ideas about what constitutes a real Republican vs. a RINO.

          Keeping a treasury report for the Central Committee is a burdensome regulation? It seems that the “fiscally irresponsible team” has had the same attitude about balancing their own checkbooks. Paying bills, accounting for donations, keeping a balance sheet for the committee– all just minor details, right?

          • Tidewater on February 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

            Nope, not minor details, just big government hoops to jump through while you figure out how to use government for your own selfish agendas. Forget about it…

        • Michael W. Dawson on February 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

          There are valid arguments on both sides of campaign finance and reporting laws, and a continuing discussion of such is profitable for a better understanding of the issue and where current statutes/regulations succeed and fail at accomplishing an intended outcome. However, Tidewater, you have implicated yourself and the controlling faction of the CCRCC as being above the law.

          The Roman statesman Cicero is credited with having argued, “We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.” Such political thought was wrought into the mettle of our nation by and through the Framers and, in particular, John Adams, who declared the establishment of “a government of laws, not of men.”

          I see from your comments here and positions on other matters, that you have substantively failed in this basic understanding. You are delusional to think you have the support of Cecil’s rank-and-file Republicans, and of our compatriots across the aisle – never!

          To proudly argue in favor of a party central committee’s reckless disregard for the Maryland law and stand on such blatant violations as some sort of rallying cry is despicable and an embarrassment to all of Cecil County’s Republicans.

          We are all fortunate that enough voters saw this flaw in the GOP’s 2010 nominee for the House of Delegates race [in Dist. 34B] to save us all from another divisive megalomaniac in Annapolis. Here’s to a brighter future for Cecil in both ’12 and ’14!

    • Ron Lobos on February 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Tedwater, is that the reason that Carrie Taylor can’t seem to keep her records straight for the Republican Central Commitee (“it’s none of anybody’s business what people do with their money” so you say). I can’t believe you take this position on Carrie Taylor. Is this the same Carrie Taylor who was hand-picked by the Smipkin slate to run for Cecil County Treasurer ? Is this the same Carrie Taylor who ran on the Smipkin slate with the never engaging Commissioner Mike Dunn? God help us if we continue to have this type of representation put before us for elected government. We deserve better.

  6. 1Citizen on January 31, 2012 at 10:43 am

    How comforting to know that CCRCC treasurer Taylor, unencumbered by state election reporting law, is one of three responsible for enforcing county liquor law. Between her and her friend Jim Mullin, it’s time to bring in the State’s Attorney (Open Meetings Law); the Board of Elections (campaign finance reporting) and, for good measure, the Attorney General.

    • Tidewater on February 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Why can’t you wait till the next election?
      A- Public opinion is with the Smipkins or whatever you call them.

      Why are you opposed to smaller government and lower taxes? Why are you afraid of freedom?

      The Commissioners are doing a good job. I hope and pray they cut education spending. To hell with maintenance of effort.

      • ConcernedInCecilCounty on February 14, 2012 at 9:09 pm

        And how many kids do you have in schools?

        • Tidewater on February 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

          If you are implying that I am stupid enough to send my kids to a CCPS you are absolutely crazy!

      • Rick O'Shea on February 15, 2012 at 10:43 am

        Tedwater: Wait til the next election to hold central committee members responsible for their actions? Filing illegal reports is serious to the voters. Smipkin Central doesn’t even meet. The chairman appoints himself to a county committee without consulting other members. Public opinion won’t be with the Smipkins when the lawsuits fly in response to the Three Amigos votes in defiance of laws and regulations. BTW, maintenance of effort is required without a waiver. Have the Three Amigos applied?

        • Tidewater on February 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm

          If its so serious name one, just one politician that has ever gone to jail for such a violation.

          Maintenance of effort is only required if you accept state funds. Not taking blood money from the state would be a step in the right direction.

          At least then we wouldn’t have to spend time teaching to the tests.

          • Rick O'Shea on February 18, 2012 at 9:03 am

            Tedwater: Unfortunately, filing fraudulent campaign reports is apparently not a jailable offense. That is because politicians like your mentor, Delegate Smigiel, protect themselves. Smigiel once said that failing to file a campaign finance report is the equivalent of a parking ticket. And he wants to be elected as a Judge?

            County taxpayers pay state taxes, part of which comes back to the county in the form of education dollars. Why should we abandon this so-called “blood money” to satisfy your theories? Didn’t you apply for and receive government grants and student loans to pursue your college degrees? Why should I have subsidized you?

            Teaching to the test actually allows the school system to ensure that all students are taught the same material. Don’t you believe in transparancy and accountability?

      • Ron Lobos on February 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

        At least two of the commissioners are doing a good job: Robert Hodge and Tari Moore. So I have to agree with you there, Tedwater. As far as cutting education expenditures, if you would go to a School Board meeting you might understand that they have already started cutting. However, state mandates restrict much of what they do.

        But then again, I believe you met with Tom Kappra [chief financial officer of the county schools] in the past and he tried to show you that. You need to listen.

      • Jackie on February 16, 2012 at 3:18 am

        Tediwater, Smipkins want control, not lower taxes and smaller government. The Smipkins locally in office have wasted more taxpayer dollars, as well as time, pursuing their own agenda, rather than serving the best interests of the county. Papa Smipkin supported RGGI, passing teacher’s pensions onto the county, binding arbitration for a local public union, all of which would expand county government.

        We currently have a Smipkin commissioner who won’t even talk to the media or his constituents and who has proven himself totally inept at the meetings. We have another well-known Smipkin, who is a huge advocate of government-driven smart growth/ sustainable development. You may know him: his name is Ted Patterson. He even won an award in 2009 for his work in smart growth planning, a concept which is antithetical to the idea of free markets and sound economics.

        Smaller government and freedom? No, those are not the priorities of the Smipkins. Vengeance and control, definitely; but smaller government, not hardly.

  7. Joe on February 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Tedwater,
    Why do you not show leadership and call for a corrected report and for the resignations of Chris Zeauskus, Mike A. Dawson and Carrie Taylor? I know you will not because you will not even come out of your little cyber-cave that you hide in. If you had showed up for a few keys events last election you would be in Annapolis right now instead of your cyber-cave! What a disgrace!

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ALAN McCARTHY for COUNTY EXEC

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