Cecil (Politics) Chatter: Secret PAC $ Pursued by State; Moore Returns to GOP Fold; Early Filers in Local Contests

December 9, 2013

State Threatens Criminal Case against PAC that Paid for other PAC’s Anti-Baynes Flyer

Even more than a year after the last election, one of the deepest secrets of the local campaign season—who really paid for a vicious attack flyer against Cecil County Judge Keith Baynes—is still a secret. But the State Board of Elections has threatened criminal action against leaders of a political action committee (PAC) that has refused to file any required financial disclosure reports.

The tawdry tale involved a flyer accusing Baynes of being soft on pedophile cases and was published under the authority line of a PAC called “Protect Cecil’s Children.” But that PAC was really primarily financed by yet another PAC—“Republicans of Cecil County,” that has not filed required reports to the state elections board.

Both PACs were organized by individuals with longstanding political ties to Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), who was resoundingly defeated when he ran in 2012 for a Circuit Court judgeship.

Judicial candidates run on a non-partisan basis in the primaries of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Baynes, a Republican, and Jane C. Murray, a Democrat, had been appointed to fill two Circuit Court vacancies and under state law were required to stand for election in 2012. Both Baynes and Murray had gone through a rigorous vetting process by a judicial nominating panel and interviews with the governor and his staff. But Smigiel avoided that process and instead decided to run for election against the sitting judges, hoping to get one of their seats. But he lost decisively in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.

In the final days of the campaign, the ‘Protect’ PAC circulated a flyer attacking Baynes. The ‘Protect’ PAC was organized by Robert Gorman, a longtime Smigiel political ally. According to finance reports filed with the Board of Elections, the ‘Protect” PAC said it spent $3,750 to print and distribute the flyer, with $300 in donations coming from Gorman.

But the bulk of the cost was paid from a $3,450 donation to the “Protect’ PAC that came from “Republicans of Cecil County,” a PAC organized by Lisa Conley and her daughter Meagan Schwartz. Conley is a longtime political ally of Smigiel. Smigiel represented Meagan Schwartz in a 2012 criminal case in which she received supervised probation on one count and multiple other charges were not pursued.

The “Republicans of Cecil County” PAC did not file three required financial disclosure reports with the State Board of Elections which should have shown where that PAC got the money it then handed over to Gorman’s ‘Protect” PAC. (Both Conley and Gorman voiced robocalls against county Councilor Robert Hodge and County Executive Tari Moore in the 2012 elections, and those calls stated they were paid for by the campaign committee of former state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, a longtime Smigiel political ally.)

But now the State Board of Elections sent two “show cause order” letters to Conley and Schwartz in late August, ordering them to file three required financial disclosure forms—that were due on 10/26/12, 11/27/12 and 1/16/13—and to pay a total of $750 in fines for failing to file the reports in a timely fashion. The state order gave them 30 days to pay the fines and file the reports, or face legal and financial consequences.

State election board campaign finance records show the Conley/Schwartz PAC has still not filed the required reports and the fines levied against them are still unpaid.

In its order, the state Board warned that failure to comply could be “referred to the proper prosecuting authority” and “could result in the imposition of a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year” for each failure to file a required report. Under state law, election law violations are handled by the independent State Prosecutor.

A spokeswoman for the state Board of Elections in Annapolis told Cecil Times on Monday that the Republicans of Cecil County PAC has not filed any response to the ‘show cause order’ and that the next step will be a referral to the State Prosecutor. However, that referral has not yet been made, the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, Gorman’s ‘Protect” PAC got a ‘show cause order’ of its own from the elections board on 12/4/13, demanding the overdue payment of a $10 fine for filing its 2013 campaign finance report a day late.

The Conley/Schwartz PAC used a name’s-almost-the-same tactic, adding “county” to its moniker. Another local PAC—Republicans of Cecil—is unrelated to their group, but it was active in the 2010 election campaigns to support other candidates endorsed by the old Smipkin political machine.

During the 2012 judicial campaign, the ‘Protect’ PAC’s allegations were challenged by the mother of a child who was the victim of a pedophile. She strongly commended Baynes for his tough prosecution of the case while he was an assistant State’s Attorney, and she criticized Smigiel for his defense representation of the criminal defendant. The defendant was ultimately sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.


County Exec Tari Moore Returns to GOP Fold; Smigiel Fumes at County Claim for $40K in Legal Fees

Cecil County Executive Tari Moore has returned to the Republican Party fold, shifting her political affiliation from “unaffiliated” back to her GOP roots. She changed her party affiliation online several weeks ago, after the expiration of a deadline for filing an appeal of a losing lawsuit by Del. Michael Smigiel. Smigiel had challenged her original shift from Republican to ‘unaffiliated’ just before she was sworn in as county executive.

“It feels good to be home,” Moore told Cecil Times in a recent interview.

Moore had shifted her longstanding alliance with the Republicans so as to give the new County Council the authority to pick her successor for her old District 2 County Commissioner seat that, upon the onset of Charter government, became a Council seat. If she had remained a Republican at the time she resigned from the legislative body to assume her new post, the county’s Republican Central Committee would have had the power to submit a list of three names to the Council, which would be bound to choose one of those names.

As it turned out, the County Council deadlocked, 2-2, even on how to begin a deliberation process of its own, and under the Charter, Moore was then empowered to pick her own replacement. She chose Joyce Bowlsbey, a Republican and longtime community volunteer and civic group leader.

The current GOP Central Committee is dominated by allies of the old Smipkin political machine, and its remaining leader, Del. Michael Smigiel, R-36, filed a lawsuit to try to block Bowlsbey’s appointment and force the GOP committee back into the power broker’s seat. But a Circuit Court judge dismissed Smigiel’s suit 10/8/13, saying that his case had “no support whatsoever’ in the law and noting that Smigiel hadn’t even bothered to file court papers responding to the county’s legal arguments.

So the county then came back in early November with a motion to seek court “sanctions” against Smigiel and reimbursement of nearly $40,000 in county legal expenses for what it said was a ‘bad faith’ lawsuit.

[SEE previous Cecil Times report on the county’s motion to require Smigiel to reimburse local taxpayers the nearly $40,000 spent by the county on its legal defense against Smigiel’s lawsuit:
http://ceciltimes.com/2013/11/cecil-county-seeks-sanctions-40k-from-del-smigiel-for-costs-to-fight-his-losing-lawsuit-against-county-exec-over-political-party-shift/ ]

Faced with the prospect of having to open his own wallet to reimburse taxpayers, Smigiel filed a response in late November, saying it was the county that was acting in “bad faith” in trying to silence critics by forcing him to cough up the costs of the legal case. His brief is long on politics and short on legal argument, and even goes so far as to launch an undocumented attack on an un-named member of Congress—apparently US Rep. Andy Harris (R-1).

Smigiel asserts: “There are allegations that involve the inappropriate funding by a United States Congressman of the campaigns of the Defendant Moore and her ticket of Councilman [Robert] Hodge and Councilman [Alan] McCarthy.” Campaign finance reports filed by all three county officials have shown no financial contributions or “funding” from a member of Congress.

Harris, the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, verbally endorsed Moore, Hodge and McCarthy. In his recent failed bid to get appointed to the state Senate seat vacated by his old political pal E.J. Pipkin, Smigiel attacked Harris and claimed he had actively campaigned against Smigiel with local GOP Central Committees in the 36th District– an accusation that Harris and multiple local GOP committee members denied.

Smigiel, showing that spell-check is not his friend, wrote that his lawsuit was “filed as a result of the unprec3edetned [sic] political actions of Defendant Moore in attempting to consolidate political power all in the County Executive.”

And he claimed that just because he didn’t file any responses to the county’s legal briefs in the original lawsuit, the county erroneously claims he “did nothing” to pursue his case. “The Plaintiff has no obligation to answer the Motions to dismiss in a manner or time which suits the Defendant,” he said.

In the court’s ruling, the judge noted that Smigiel had filed no responses even after being given an extended period of time to do so and after the county withdrew its request for an in person hearing in court on the case. Once the hearing was called off, the court was only left with both sides’ legal filings on which to make a decision, and Smigiel had filed no arguments or briefs after his initial 1/14/13 lawsuit.

If the legal back and forth goes to an open court hearing on whether to sanction Smigiel and force him to pay the county’s legal fees, getting a seat to hear the arguments could be the hottest ticket in Elkton for many a year.


Bowlsbey Makes Council Run Official; Incumbents Lowe, Rollins, Nickle File for Re-election

Cecil County Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) has formally filed for election to her seat in 2014, standing before the voters to ratify her occupancy of the seat to which she was appointed last January by County Executive Tari Moore.

Bowlsbey announced her intention to seek election to her Council seat in late September, at a gathering of the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government in Chesapeake City. [See Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2013/09/cecil-county-councilor-joyce-bowlsbey-announces-election-run-for-district-2-seat-in-2014-appointee-to-face-voters/ ] But she made it official by filing her candidacy papers on 11/26/13 with the state Board of Elections.

Although 2014 will be the first time Bowlsbey faces the voters in her own election campaign, she is a veteran of past political frays. In particular, she led a successful effort to convince county voters to approve a shift from the County Commissioner form of government to Charter. That momentous political change was ratified by voters overwhelmingly in 2010, after decades of failed efforts in the past to alter the county’s form of government.

Bowlsbey is not the only incumbent to toss a hat into the political ring early in the 2014 campaign season.

Circuit Court Clerk Derrick W. Lowe, a Republican, filed for re-election on 7/30/13. Lowe, a lawyer, won an upset victory four years ago against the longtime Democratic incumbent, William Brueckman, who had held the post since 1994.

The only Democrat to hold on to a seat contested four years ago, Allyn “Lyn” Price Nickle, the county’s Register of Wills, filed for re-election 9/6/13. Nickle, who in the past had won overwhelming voter support, had a tough race four years ago and narrowly held on to her post. It was a strong Republican year, and the county’s voter registration has since shifted to a slight GOP majority. So it’s not surprising that she is getting an early start on her campaign.

And first-term State’s Attorney E.D. Ellis Rollins III, a Republican, filed for re-election on 11/22/13. Rollins had previously sought a Circuit Court judgeship but did not get an appointment to either of two past vacancies. When the state approved creation of a new fourth Circuit Court judgeship in Cecil County and applications were taken for an appointment this year, Rollins did not put his name into the mix this time.

Brenda Sexton, a domestic law master, was recently appointed to the new court slot by Gov. Martin O’Malley and she will have to stand for election in 2014 to hold on to her seat. Rollins’ filing for re-election to the State’s Attorney post indicates he won’t be challenging her for a court seat next year.

Under a change in state election law, adopted by the General Assembly in the final days of this year’s legislative session, the deadline for candidates to file for office in the political primaries was moved up to Tuesday, 2/25/14. So that means there is not much time left for aspiring candidates to make their decisions on whether to run and assemble their campaign committees and requisite paperwork.

In addition, campaign treasurers will have a lot more paperwork to file under the new election law changes. In a recent notice to existing campaign committees, the state Board of Elections said campaign committees will have to file an annual report due 4/15/14; two pre-primary financial reports, due 5/27/14 and 6/13/14; two pre-general election reports, due 8/26/14 and 10/24/14; and a post-general election report due 11/21/14.

Additional rules and paperwork requirements will be put in place in 2015, after the current election cycle.

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22 Responses to Cecil (Politics) Chatter: Secret PAC $ Pursued by State; Moore Returns to GOP Fold; Early Filers in Local Contests

  1. Bobby G on December 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Big Deal. It takes so long to kick politicians in the ass after they do their own will. Let’s have the Cecil Times start spending time finding out how the County departments are run. Are we professional as supervisors and do they make the best out of the strong workforce we keep. Employees are doing more each year with no increase in pay– excuse me, I forgot about the 1% over 5 years. Let’s get down to giving these people some help and put the mean spirited politicians in jail where they belong.

  2. Joe C on December 10, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Everyone should file their reports as timely as possible. I would suggest checking Ms. Moore’s report more closely and it will be obvious how the money was funneled into her campaign. What is more important is that she turned her back on the very Republicans that donated, so she could have her own way and name her own replacement. Now she thinks it is ok to return but she can not be trusted to keep her word.

  3. Barbara D on December 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone that Mrs. Moore returned to the Republican party. And I think most people understand, and support, why she did what she did. The first year of charter has been bad enough with the county council with one member yelling all the time and obstructing everything. Just think what a disaster it would have been if the puppets on the central committee had installed one of their own on the Council.

    Thanks Cecil Times for keeping ahead of things on politics in this county. I see the Whig finally sort of caught up nine days later.

    • Joe C on December 19, 2013 at 6:52 am

      At least that one member of the council was speaking out defending the taxpayers of Cecil County. Ms. Moore may now wear a Republican label but when you peel back the label you find a true liberal who has just increased the debt of Cecil county taxpayers by 50%, increased fees and protects her special interest handlers. I can foresee an increase in the Whig Party now that the RINO Moore has barged her way back into the Republican Party.

      • Stupid Intolerant on December 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm

        She speaks out all right, defending the voices in her head which tell her successful business people are evil and should be sabotaged. As far as increasing debt goes two words come to mind–Artesian and Basell– although there are many more. As far as special interests go,when the voters kick your members (the one that won’t shut up and the one who hides) to the curb, BFL can pick them up and dispose of properly.

        • Joe C on December 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm

          You sound like a broken record who needs to go to anger management classes. Merry Christmas.

          • Stupid Intolerant on December 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

            Do you really want to use the word “record” when discussing Diana Broomell?Speaking of anger management, who infamously said “I’ll try to control myself but I doubt I can” on the “record” during a council meeting? Also the middle finger given to the council president by a Broomell supporter was quite a display of civic disrespect. You know what they say about”Birds of a Feather.” Always remember hypocrisy deserves ridicule and Diana Broomell’s biggest enemy is her record!

          • Ron Lobos on December 23, 2013 at 6:19 am

            Actually Joe, he speaks the truth.

          • Joe C. on December 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm

            How do you know who speaks the truth, have not seen you at a meeting lately. Hope you are well. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As far Stupid Intolerant, the name says it all and thanks for revealing who it is!

      • BJ on December 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm

        If you think Diana Broomell is really interested in defending the taxpayers of Cecil County, you are fooling only yourself. You should know better having served with her on the Republican Central committee. It was not that long ago you were publicly very critical of her.

        • Joe C on December 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm

          People change, isn’t it great that we live in a country that we can freely voice our opinions. She is standing up for the taxpayers now, all is well and I take it you do not like it!

          • BJ on December 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm

            It doesn’t matter whether I “like it” or not – but you are really mistaken if you think she’s standing up for the taxpayers. She stands up for her agenda, and her agenda only. She may claim she’s “representing” taxpayers, but it’s just a ruse to further her agenda. She’s using you as well.

          • Stupid Intolerant on December 26, 2013 at 10:35 am

            You’ve changed allright, both of you, from candidate to commissioner– first calling for transparency then sabotaging Artesian in a unilateral fleecing of the taxpayers behind their backs. How about drafting an animal control contract in secrecy then passing it in an emergency session.

            I won’t mention Carpenters Point because that issue is special. Interesting. Tier Map 4, standing up for the taxpayers? Can you say hidden adgenda or as you say “change”. What’s not to like?

          • Joe C. on December 28, 2013 at 10:49 pm

            No one was fleeced but you. Artesian walked away from the deal because they knew it was bad deal, all they wanted was the water and they got it! SPCA also walked away from animal control contract and that is why the judge ruled against them. Face it you are anti-Broomell because she is standing in the way of YOUR agenda.

          • BJ on December 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm

            Joe, you are wrong. Every taxpaying household that has county sewer got fleeced when Artesian backed out of that contract, to the tune of $14M. Hope you aren’t one of them.

            You are also wrong about the SPCA walking away from their contract having anything to do with the sweet deal Buddies for Life got. Broomell even publicly admitted she didn’t read the Animal Control ordinance – and then voted in favor of an emergency meeting to adopt the Buddies contract, and then voted to extend the contract from 18 months to 3 years.

            Why you continue to defend her defies common sense.

          • Joe C. on January 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm

            I stand up for what is right, how do you know that Artesian was going to be such a great deal for the Cecil rate payers? Perhaps you need to take a business 101 course. They have shareholders that they must answer to and MAKE A PROFIT for, that profit would come from the rate payers wallets. As far as Buddies for Life they are doing a great job, I had a problem with a neighbors dog for years and SPCA was not effective in solving the problem. Once BFL take over the issue was solved. Case closed in my book!

          • Stupid Intolerant on January 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm

            How did the councilwoman know it was going to be a bad deal? Oh, I forgot she has so much experience managing municipal utilities–NOT! There is a reason Artesian runs water works and Dianna Broomell–what does she do again? ‘Another fine mess, Ollie.’

          • Joe C on January 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

            SI, you said it, Artesian runs water utilizes that is why they walked away from the deal, they just wanted the water but were willing to take the sewer to get it! If Broomell is so uninformed as you claim, how did little ole’ Diana chase the savior of Cecil utilities away from the table? think about it instead of being on a constant anti-Broomell vent.

          • Stupid Intolerant on January 5, 2014 at 9:20 pm

            Yes Joe I said it and now you did also. Water supply makes profit and sewer treatment loses it. Artesian agreed to own both until your girl stuck her nose in it. If you want to know how she did it ask her, and while you’re at it ask her to reimburse the taxpayers for the legal fees she stuck us with– on top of the $62mil…

          • Joe C on January 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm

            I will ask her when ask Tari Moore to pay back the MD GOP for the support she received from them for being a fake Republican. By the way the bill is 40K, plus reimbursing the local GOP who also provided funds for her election.

      • Tim Z on January 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

        Feel free to contact on any information on the Modern Whig Party. Take a look at their web site.

  4. Rick O'Shea on December 27, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I’m surprised that EJ Pipkin didn’t pay the fines as a farewell gift when he left for Texas. Makes me believe that he won’t bankroll any Cecil County or District 36 mischief in the 2014 elections. Without funding for robocalls and negative mailers, Smigiel and the Smipkins will have to run on their records. Losers.

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