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Smipkin Pals, Seeking Cecil County Council Seat, Linked to PACs $ Sleaze Against Fellow Republicans

December 10, 2012
By Nancy Schwerzler

Two candidates for a vacant Cecil County Council seat, seeking endorsement from the Smipkin-controlled Republican Central Committee, are linked to Political Action Committee (PAC) financing of a smear campaign against fellow Republican Judge Keith Baynes, who resoundingly defeated Del. Michael Smigiel in the April primary for a court seat. But one of their PAC’s is still keeping secret the source of its money that it shifted to the other PAC—in violation of state election laws.

The key players in this little drama are Robert Gorman, a longtime political supporter of and campaign donor to Smigiel, and Lisa Conley, another Smigiel supporter. Both Gorman and Conley served as the named voices on robocalls attacking fellow Republicans Tari Moore and Robert Hodge in the April GOP primary. Those robocalls stated they were paid for by the campaign fund of state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36).

(Moore overwhelmingly won the crowded GOP primary and went on to win the November general election to become Cecil County’s first-ever County Executive. Hodge, a one-term County Commissioner, won his GOP primary race and went on to win the District 5 County Council seat in November.)

Gorman also created a new PAC that mounted an attack, complete with a scurrilous mailer and Facebook page, against Judge Baynes and supporting Smigiel’s failed race for a court seat. That effort was actually financed by another previously secret PAC linked to Conley, according to a Cecil Times review of state election campaign finance records. But Conley’s group has so far refused to obey state election laws to disclose the source of the money her group then transferred to Gorman’s PAC to finance its attacks.

Gorman and Conley were interviewed last week by the county’s GOP Central Committee, sources said, seeking to be put on a three-name list of endorsed candidates to fill the District 2 County Council seat vacated by Moore upon being sworn in as County Executive. (The Central Committee is controlled by acolytes of Smigiel and Pipkin, whose Smipkin alliance has sought to dominate local Cecil County government and politics for several years.)

But the county’s GOP Central Committee was actually removed from the legal process to fill the vacancy under rules of the new county Charter when Moore changed her party affiliation from Republican to “unafilliated” several days before being sworn into office as County Executive. If she had remained a Republican, the GOP committee could have determined the three-name list from which a replacement would have to be selected. But now the GOP committee’s recommendations are advisory only, although the committee’s continuation of its selection process is apparently designed to try to pressure the all-Republican County Council, and Moore, to pick one of their candidates to fill the vacancy.

Under the county’s new Charter, the County Council will now nominate candidates to fill the politically unaffiliated seat. But the political reality is that the panel will deadlock, 2-2, with Hodge and new Councilman Dr. Alan McCarthy (R-1) on one side and Smipkin followers Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn (R-3) on the other. (Both Broomell and Dunn are former employees of Smigiel in his legislative office.) Under that deadlock scenario, Moore will ultimately get to pick her Council replacement in January.

Smigiel and Pipkin, and various surrogates and employees, have loudly denounced Moore’s decision to temporarily “unaffiliate” and remove the Smipkins from control of deciding who will fill the Council seat. But many Cecil County Republicans and voters have voiced support for Moore’s decision in postings on Cecil Times’ website and Facebook page.

Meanwhile, state elections board records show that Gorman is the chairman of a PAC called “Protect Cecil’s Children” that was created 3/23/12, shortly before the April primary election. Listed as treasurer of the group is Walter Chicosky, of Elkton. They listed their agenda as “protecting children from sex offenders.”

In fact, that group’s sole effort was to produce a direct mail political attack on Baynes, and a Facebook page that has now deleted most of their most scurrilous attack comments. The Gorman-backed group falsely accused Judge Baynes of being ‘soft’ on child predators, in an apparent attempt to mount a pre-emptive attack to deflect attention from Smigiel’s record as a defense attorney for a major sex offender. The ex-wife of that offender posted a letter to the editor of Cecil Times commending the tough stance Baynes took as a prosecutor of that sex offender and criticizing Smigiel for defending the convicted sex offender in various court proceedings.

State election records, filed 10/25/12, show that Gorman personally donated $ 350 and his PAC received a transfer of funds, in the amount of $3,450, from a Conley-related group, Republicans of Cecil County PAC. Gorman’s PAC spent $3,750 on a direct mail flyer attacking Baynes, state records show. But the reports also show that the Conley-backed PAC did not donate its money until 6/25/12, long after the primary was over.

Conley’s “Republicans of Cecil County” PAC—with a very similar name to a previous Smipkin PAC known as ROC-PAC or ‘Republicans of Cecil’ that financed Smipkin-backed candidates in the 2010 election—was created 4/5/12, right after the primary election, and listed Meagan Kay Schwartz, of Elkton, as chairman and Lisa Conley as Treasurer. Schwartz and Conley both listed the same Elkton address as their residence on the state report. [UPDATE: Schwartz was listed as the campaign treasurer for Cecil County Councilman Michael Dunn (R-3) on his most recent filing earlier this year with the state elections board.]

The Conley-related PAC has been cited by the state elections board for violating state campaign finance reporting law by failing to file two required financial reports: a pre-general election report due 10/26/12 and a post-general election report due 11/27/12. State election records list a total of $340 in fines for the violations and there could be additional fines for the failure to file the November report if it remains unfiled.

So for now, citizens are kept in the dark about who actually financed Conley’s PAC that then financed Gorman’s PAC that paid for a sleaze attack on Judge Baynes.

And now both Gorman and Conley think they are qualified to lead Cecil County into the future in a key leadership position on the County Council? Will the Smipkin-controlled Central Committee agree and put their names on the panel’s proposed nomination list?

(Perhaps that is all the more–or MOORE?– reason to appreciate the changed political landscape that could be in the offing after the GOP Central Committee was removed from the legally-binding equation to select the new Council member.)

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18 Responses to Smipkin Pals, Seeking Cecil County Council Seat, Linked to PACs $ Sleaze Against Fellow Republicans

  1. tina sharp on December 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Meagan is Lisas daughter

  2. Jackie on December 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Up until last week, Meagan Schwartz, chair of the ROCC PAC was also listed as Mike Dunn’s treasurer on his Facebook page. It seems he has taken her name off of his page now. They have built quite a machine in Cecil County. I wonder how many may have given to this PAC thinking the $ would be used to support Republicans, but instead it is being used to smear them.

  3. Wingo Resident on December 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you T. Moore for doing the right thing for Cecil County. Clearly the Republican Central Committee in Cecil County is off their collective rocker. It’s time to put this issue to bed come Jan. and appoint the right person to the post so the county can finally move forward from the last three draconian years.

  4. Michael Burns on December 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    If the Republican Central Committee selects either of these two as their nominee, who have no business running Cecil County, that would certainly validate Tari’s “prevent defense” (switching to unaffiliated), while also proving who controls the Republican Central Committee. Just the possibility alone I think shows it was a necessary move.

  5. Rick O'Shea on December 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for this fine piece of investigative journalism. Hopefully, people will now understand why Tari Moore made the “unaffiliated” decision.

  6. Joe C on December 11, 2012 at 6:27 am

    While I appreciate many informative stories that the Cecil Times publishes in this forum, I believe that it is important to maintain a certain level of objectivity. To that end, I believe that EVERYONE should file their required disclosure forms in a timely manner as prescribed by law.

    This includes Ms. Conley, but more importantly Mrs. Moore who has NOT filed her campaign finance report as of yesterday. The voter should know what who backed what candidate in an election. If she is to lead this county, it should be by example.

    This does not set a good example and it should be mentioned in a report which is discussing failure to file required reports.

    CECIL TIMES responds: Joe, we heartily agree that everyone should file their reports when due. We’ve asked Moore several times about her report that was due 11/26 and were told there was a computer hangup with the new electronic filing system. But she should have gotten it fixed by now and we will administer our 30 lashes and count up her fines from the state election board when we do a separate report on her.

    (Moore has filed three campaign finance reports previously this year and Cecil Times is the ONLY media outlet to review and report on them.)

    We have always done separate reports on specific races– such as candidates for county exec, County council District 1, etc. This report was primarily about spending against Judge Baynes. It so happens that such spending involved two potential candidates for nomination for the vacant council seat and their campaign finance activities this year.

  7. Joe C on December 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you for the response and posting. I will be looking forward to your in depth reporting on the campaign report when it is filed. It is interesting that other candidates did not have trouble with the electronic filing which has been in place for sometime. What a shame that Mrs. Moore choose to switch parties because the state GOP offered a training class on this subject at the recent convention.

  8. ConcernedInCecilCounty on December 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Joe – It looks like the Cecil County Republican Central Committee is having the same electronic filing issues – lol. When can we expect to see that posted so we can see all of the support that they provided to the Republicans that ran in the local races?

  9. tina sharp on December 12, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Now don’t get on Joe about the central committee. He is the first one to get on them– he always has been a stickler to do the finance report properly. Talk to Carrie Taylor. LOL she ran for [county] Treasurer– look, I made a funny.

    • Joe C on December 13, 2012 at 6:52 am

      Thank you Tina! If Concerned in Cecil County ever came to a Republican Central Committee they would hear me pressing for accurate and complete filing of all reports. But that would mean they would have to be BRAVE enough to reveal themselves instead of hiding behind a fake front. I also put our current treasurer in touch with the MD GOP state treasurer to help her fix our current issues. Thank you for being brave and for serving our nation. Merry Christmas!!!

  10. Take The Money and Run on December 13, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Oh big surprise the Toad King would do anything underhanded to get elected! He’s got a million tricks up his sleeve, doesn’t he? Smearing his opponents in the media, using stolen letterhead and calling it a mistake, buying up the domain name of a potential opponent (ask Sossi what he knows about sossiforsenate.com!)

    If anyone tried this with him he’d be all up in their faces with a lawsuit yet, he continues to get away with unethical behavior and no one seems to call him on it or report him to the Ethics Board.

    “Quite a machine” is putting it mildly! He must be “bursting” with pride at the crap he gets away with. I just wonder when the “machine” is going to get officially caught with its hand in the cookie jar.

  11. ConcernedInCecilCounty on December 13, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Sorry Joe if it looked like I was taking a shot at you, it was meant for the CCRCC. And Tina, I liked your funny.

  12. ConcernedInCecilCounty on December 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Joe – This is not hiding behind a fake front, all one had to was ask. I thought that it was a good description (and name) about my feelings about what was going on in Cecil County. It is Tim by the way. Everyone is so concerned about Tari’s campaign report and ignoring the more important issues in the county. By the way, her report is filed and is quite boring. If you look at the time stamp on my response to Tina, it was before your response. Everyone is aware of your efforts and appreciate them.

  13. Joe C on December 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Accepted! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  14. Bob Banjer on December 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I suggest replacing Mullin with a Majic 8 Ball. This would break the tie and save $25K per year.

  15. F Gaylord Moody III on December 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    The Republican Central Committee of Cecil County is dysfunctional. It does not hold regular meetings and does not seem to advertise them very effectively. It should not take a dose of courage to attend those meetings, but when the officers of the Central Committee seem to have been coached that politics is played as a contact sport, perhaps that is a sad truth. The only people who care to attend the meetings seem to be the type that look for trouble.

    Whatever is going on here, the Republicans are airing way too much dirty laundry in public. I believe the “unafiliated” option is becoming more rational by the day. The local Republicans are now very close to earning recognition as the party of unhinged bullies. I seriously doubt any training offered by the party would be worth the price of associating with that group.

    • Joe C on December 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      Gaylord, the training was offered by the state GOP not the local group. Merry Christmas!

  16. Stupid Intolerant on December 15, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Mirror Mirror On The Wall.

    I have been following the grumblings of the RCCoCC as a panel and chairman Zeaukus in particular quite closely. His accusations of “conspiracy,corruption,dishonesty,being despicable,blah blah blah” in reference to executive Moore is total hypocracy.

    (May I remind him he intentionally called a meeting of the RCCoCC in direct conflict with a commissioner town hall that had been arranged by the Cecil County Patriots. People,this did not pass the smell test.The purpose of the town hall was to give citizens a chance to meet, greet and quiz their commissioners.The purpose of the last minute RCCoCC meeting was to give the Pipkin/Smigiel controlled commissioners a place to hide.) So I paid the RCCoCC meeting a visit on my way to the town hall to ask why. I was greeted by chairman Zeaukus and treasurer Carrie Taylor. Then I was threatened, along with commissioners Moore, Hodge and the rest of the Patriots.

    My point is the chairman is casting stones from a glass house.I f he finds our executive’s party shift so objectionable perhaps he should look in the mirror. While he is there he may want to look over his shoulder. P.S. Hang in there committeeperson Kolodzey, the voter cavalry will be there soon!

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