Cecil County Council: McCarthy Out Fundraises Mullin in Dist. 1 Campaign; Mullin Misplaces $16K

March 26, 2012

Dr. Alan McCarthy, who is seeking to oust incumbent County Commissioner James Mullin (R-1) in this year’s Republican primary, has raised $11,631 so far from donors and fundraising events while Mullin has done minimal fundraising but has a $16,200 mystery in his campaign reports: money showed up in January but disappeared in March, with neither the origin nor the outgo of the money accounted for.

It’s Mullin’s now you see it, now you don’t financial mystery. If the average citizen got over $16,000 put into his or her bank account, you can bet they’d know where it came from, and where it went. But not so on Mullin’s filed reports. (All campaign donations are supposed to be fully documented on who contributed the money, and when, and all expenditures are supposed to be spelled out.)

In Mullin’s annual report covering the full year 2011 — which was filed 1/12/12– Mullin reported a carry-over balance of $16,240, with no new contributions and no expenditures since his previous annual report was filed 1/19/11, covering campaign activity in 2010. (But that previous 1/19/11 finance report filed with the State Board of Elections listed a zero balance and does not indicate where the money listed as a “carry over” on the subsequent report actually came from in the first place.)
Nevertheless, just two months after his January, 2012 filing with the state showing his over $16K windfall, Mullin’s new pre-primary report submitted 3/21/12 does not account for what happened to all that money he reported in January. Instead, he now reports a zero prior account balance and minimal donations and expenditures in his race for the County Council this year.

Cecil Times has called Mullin, asking him to explain the discrepancy, and will update this report upon his response.

[UPDATE: After our article appeared, Mullin apparently went into the state elections database and changed his January, 2012 campaign report and deleted the $16K figure and inserted zeros. The telltale change, however, is the 3/27/12 date listed further down on the report for the date of the revised submission. That still doesn’t answer the question of where the $16K came from in the first place.]

In the new pre-primary report, Mullin declares a remaining cash on hand balance of $691, after new donations of $750 and expenditures of $1,058. A loan to his own campaign by Mullin accounted for the difference. He also had in-kind donations to pay for printing campaign signs.

Mullin received one direct contribution from a Cecil County resident– $100 from Dennis Brezina of Chesapeake City—and a $250 donation recorded on 2/24/12 from Rob Entgen of Queen Anne’s County.

Entgen heads the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, which two years ago received support from Mullin and the other then-Cecil County Commissioners to make that program the county’s top priority for state Rural Legacy funds. This year, at commissioners’ worksessions on 2/14/12 and 2/21/12, the merits of endorsing ESLC over a proposal from the Cecil County Land Trust for the top priority designation was discussed. The Land Trust only operates in Cecil County and oversees a preservation program in the Fair Hill area, while ESLC operates in several counties on the Upper Shore, including southern Cecil County.

At the 2/21/12 worksession, commissioners decided to prioritize the Land Trust this year since the ESLC’s top project was in Caroline County, but left open the door to endorse ESLC next year when its next two projects, both in Cecil County, could be ready for advancement.

Mullin also received three donations, totaling $400, from Joanne, Allison and Amanda Kaster, of “Witchia, Kansas,” as the campaign document spelled it. They are believed to be relatives of Mullin.

But the donation figures only tell part of the tale. Mullin’s in-kind contributions show he got Sentman Distributors to pay $612 for printing of some of his campaign signs. John C. Sentman has been Mullin’s campaign committee treasurer for years. (Mullin shows printing costs paid directly by his campaign fund of nearly $684 and $375 charged by the Cecil Whig for ads.)

Mullin also listed as in-kind contributions his own purchase of “supplies for campaigning door to door” totaling $205 in the January-March reporting period, with an aggregate total of $1,322 in self-funded “door to door” materials so far in his campaign.

Although he lists those door-to-door campaign materials as in-kind expenditures on behalf of his own campaign, those plastic baggies going out around the county also benefit other candidates—all aligned, as is Mullin, with the Smipkin political organization led by Del. Michael Smigiel and Sen. E.J. Pipkin, both R-36.

Smigiel, who is seeking a Cecil County Circuit Court seat, is including his campaign materials in those baggies. Smigiel has not filed his own campaign finance reports this year and has been cited by the state Board of Elections as being in “violation” of state election law, state records show.

In addition, Mullin loaned his campaign account $1,000 on 1/27/12, the latest report shows, and he is still carrying over an outstanding loan balance of $8,550 from his campaign for county commissioner four years ago.

Candidates can carry over personal loan balances from year to year but if and when a campaign account is closed, the money must either be repaid by the campaign or the loan “forgiven” by the candidate. In practical terms, candidates usually keep the loans on the books in the hopes that someday they might get an infusion of contributions from various sources that would allow them to pay off the loan and recoup their own investment in their campaigns.

Meanwhile, Dr. McCarthy, a Chesapeake City veterinarian and businessman who is running his first campaign for elected office, filed a thoroughly detailed campaign finance report showing mostly relatively small donations.

Overall, McCarthy shows contributions of $5,181 and purchases of fundraiser event tickets of $6,450. He has also loaned his campaign $5,000—for a total campaign income of $16,631.

His expenditures so far tallied $13,050—including costs of his fundraiser, printing, postage and advertising costs– and he had a cash on hand balance of $3,581 going into the final days before the April 3 GOP primary election. McCarthy’s ‘in kind” donations—including antiques, artwork and decorative items raffled at his fundraiser—tallied $2,020.

Reviewing McCarthy’s detailed list of donors and ticket purchasers shows a bipartisan roster of Cecil County residents and mostly small donations. The largest combined donations and ticket purchases tallied were $650 from Kevin Urich, an Elkton lawyer who is McCarthy’s campaign treasurer; $500 from David Williams of Chesapeake City; $435 from Hunters Auction Service, of Rising Sun; $325 from Lloyd Sanders, of Rising Sun; and $300 from David Morton, of Elkton.

So far, McCarthy has not received any direct donations from the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government Political Action Committee (PAC), which is headed by David Williams. However, McCarthy’s campaign has benefited from being endorsed by the PAC, which has distributed email endorsements and held several “meet the candidates” events at which McCarthy was honored by the group.

The winner of the McCarthy-Mullin matchup in the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary for the District 1 seat in the November general election. In the Democratic primary contest, newcomer Garrett Billmire has raised more funds than his primary opponent, Pamela Bailey, a failed candidate in the 2008 general election against Mullin.

Billmire, who has one of the more pointed and amusing campaign ads of the season attacking the Smipkins’ control of county government, received $300 in contributions and loaned his campaign $1,349. He received three donations of $100 each from Eleanor Crossan, Barry Persofsky and Christopher Jaeckel. His printing and advertising expenses totaled $1,497 and he reported a remaining cash on hand balance of about $152.

His opponent, Bailey, filed an affidavit with the elections board stating she had not raised or spent over $1,000 in her campaign to date. Consequently, she is not required by law to disclose any contributions she received or expenditures she made in her campaign. In her failed campaign in the 1st District four years ago, much of her support in the Democratic primary came from supporters of Mullin, who figured she’d be an easy candidate for him to defeat in a general election. She was.

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