Santa Pipkin Fills Smigiel Political Stocking with $6K; Coal for Jacobs, Hershey, Arentz in 36th District
It was two days after Christmas, 2013 and all through the Upper Shore, Republican politicos had visions of sugar-daddy plums coming down the chimney with ex-Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who resigned from his seat and moved to Texas—leaving behind a hefty goody sack filled with political cash.
In a newly filed campaign finance report, Pipkin reported that he recently distributed virtually all of his remaining campaign funds to various political committees and one candidate in particular: his longtime ally and underling, Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36). Smigiel—half of the “Smipkin” political organization moniker with Pipkin that ruled Cecil County GOP politics for several years until Pipkin’s resignation—was gifted with $6,000 given to his campaign committee on 12/27/13, according to Pipkin’s filings with the state Board of Elections.
(The state elections board reported that Smigiel had not filed his required annual report by the 1/15/14 deadline and had already been assessed a late fee.)
At the time of his resignation, Pipkin served as the Republican Minority Leader in the state Senate, and many of his colleagues were both shocked and miffed with his sudden departure. Pipkin apparently sought to mollify his old colleagues with a $5,355 donation to the “Republican Senatorial Slate Committee,” also transferred on 12/27/13.
He also made some modest, but equal, donations of $1,000 each to the Republican central committees in the four counties of the 36th District: Cecil, Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.
(Cecil County’s Republican Central Committee had not filed its own report by the 1/15/14 deadline, and the state election board listed a late fee. In addition, the Cecil County GOP committee is under two “show cause” orders from the state Board of Elections for unpaid fines from past late report filings, including a $110 fine for the handling of its 2013 annual report and another $250 fine for its 2012 post-general election report.)
Pipkin’s report also lists various campaign-related expenses from his pre-resignation era last year, including booths at local fairs, printing and similar expenses. But the report also discloses expenditures totaling $1,539 for robocalls, online ads and other ads, paid on 4/19/13. That was a long way past the 2012 election, and could reflect either a delayed bill payment or post-election activity.
The Smipkin organization was active in attacking Cecil County Executive Tari Moore, a fellow Republican, even after she won the 2012 election and attacked her for her temporary shift to an “unaffiliated” party status as a way to keep the Smipkin-controlled county GOP central committee from hand-picking her successor on the County Council.
Glaringly absent from Pipkin’s Christmas gift list are any presents for the other members of the 36th District delegation to Annapolis: fellow Republicans Del. Jay Jacobs, of Kent County; Steve Hershey—who was appointed to fill Pipkin’s Senate seat—and new Del. Steve Arentz of Queen Anne’s County, who was appointed to fill Hershey’s old House of Delegates seat.
(In the last election cycle, Arentz’ local campaign committee for his successful run for Queen Anne’s County Commissioner, transferred about $500 to Pipkin’s campaign committee. But the return period for his gift apparently had expired in Pipkin’s retail political store—even though as the newest member of the delegation he probably has the greatest need for campaign support as he tries to win election for the first time in the four counties of the 36th district.)
Jacobs had usually steered an independent course, focusing on local issues and constituent needs, but without any open disagreements with Pipkin. Hershey was a loyal Pipkin lieutenant from his first successful campaign for Delegate in 2010—but he beat out Smigiel to win the appointment to fill Pipkin’s Senate seat.
Hershey has filed for election to the seat in the 2014 election. Former Del. Dick Sossi, who lost re-election by 124 votes to Hershey, is on the verge of formally filing against him for the Senate seat and is already openly campaigning.
So Smigiel got a $6,000 holiday gift to nurse his wounds and help him in whatever political race he will wage in 2014. At the time of the feud between Smigiel and Hershey over who would get the Pipkin seat in the Senate, Smigiel declared he would run for the Senate seat in the 2014 election regardless of who got the short-term appointment.
But he has not repeated that declaration publicly since Hershey was sworn into the Senate and local political speculation centers on Smigiel making another run for his current Cecil County-based seat in the House of Delegates. So far, two relatively obscure Republican candidates have filed for the seat, with another month to go before the filing deadline.
[SEE previous Cecil Times report on Pipkin’s resignation here: