Cecil County Council Campaign: Miller Top Fundraiser, Larsen Re-Writes History, Wilson AWOL

May 26, 2018

Al Miller, a Republican candidate for the Cecil County Council in District 3, is the apparent top fundraiser in this year’s races for three Council seats, raising more than $24,000 so far in his bid to unseat an incumbent in the June 26 GOP primary.

In three races with candidates aligned with the local ultra-conservative group, Campaign for Liberty, candidates have only received donations from officers of the C4L group. The third candidate has yet to file any campaign finance reports in his Council campaign, despite state law providing he should have filed two reports by now. And one of those candidates recently filed an overhauled version of his earlier report, re-writing his campaign finance history after Cecil Times reported that he had made expenditures that were not accounted for on his initial state finance report.

County Council candidates run from the district in which they live, but all county voters get to cast a vote for all candidates throughout the county.


In this contest, Miller, a farm equipment sales executive and longtime president of the county fair whose family has deep roots in the agriculture community, is seeking to replace incumbent Councilor Dan Schneckenburger, a construction piping sales executive and former mechanical engineer with the Basell company. The third candidate in the race is Thomas J. Wilson, a business executive, who ran unsuccessfully against the late Wayne Norman for the state Senate four years ago. Wilson is aligned with the C4L group. All the candidates are Republicans and no Democrat has filed, so the seat will be decided in the GOP primary.

In his initial campaign finance report filed in January, Miller reported a total of $1,330 in contributions and ticket sales. The new filing submitted this week showed that Miller’s campaign shifted into high gear, with another $22,744 in donations and event ticket purchases. (That figure includes a $1,500 loan by Miller to his campaign.) So with about a month to go before the primary election, Miller’s total of $24,074 leads the pack of local Council candidates’ fundraising.

Major donors to Miller’s campaign include Kirsh Title Services, of North East, $1,350; Artesian Water, Maryland, $800; Howard (Bud) McFadden, who serves as chairman of the Miller campaign, $700; R&M Enterprises, of Earleville, $600; and R Brooks Mechanical, of Rising Sun, $600. Jesse. J. McMillan, of Rising Sun, purchased event tickets totaling $1,000 and R&M Enterprises also bought event tickets totaling $500. Miller held a golf fundraiser and a campaign announcement reception at the Wellwood as his major campaign events.

After the usual yard sign printing, advertising, billboards and website expenses, Miller still had $6,105 in his campaign warchest.

Meanwhile, Schneckenburger was late in filing his campaign report, which was due by midnight Tuesday (5/22/2018). He told Cecil Times that his campaign treasurer, Faith Addair, had been hospitalized and that he had informed state Board of Elections officials of the problem. Schneckenburger has filed on time reports in past campaigns. He said his new required report would be filed on Friday, but by close of business it had still not shown up on the state elections database. (This report will be updated upon the eventual filing of his campaign finance documents.)

In his required finance report filed in January, covering 2017 campaign fund activity in preparation for his run this year, there were $2,850 in donations listed. That brought his total campaign fund balance in January to $5,116, including carry-over money from previous years. His largest donor was Devon Construction of Elkton, which has donated a total of $1,400 to Schneckenburger’s campaign, including $400 donated last June. Elkton Recycling was another business donor, contributing $500 in December, 2017.

The third candidate in this district, Wilson, has yet to file any of the mandatory campaign finance reports this year, despite the fact that state law required him to file an “annual report” in January covering his 2017 donations and expenditures as well as the report that was due on Tuesday. In fact, Wilson is still cleaning up problems with his campaign finance reports stemming from his brief primary run against Norman four years ago, with multiple amended reports filed just recently. He finally got around to filing his report covering finances in 2016 on 2/20/2018, more than a year after it was due. And he filed three amended reports, covering reports due as far back as 2014, on 2/16/2018.

The state Board of Elections assessed late filing penalties against Wilson totaling $1,010 for violations from 2014 through 2016, but he got the state to waive $585 of those fines. This year, the BOE has not yet levied fines for his failure to file the annual report that was due in January, but has posted fines totaling $60 as of Friday 5/25/2018 for the failure to file the report that was due on Tuesday. Wilson’s current campaign treasurer is Joe Tropp, who heads the Cecil County C4L group.


Incumbent County Council member George Patchell, who heads the county’s YMCA and has been active in youth sports programs, is seeking re-election in a low-budget campaign. He has filed two affadavits this year, reporting that he had neither raised nor spent over $1,000 in his re-election bid. Patchell has the advantage of a stockpile of campaign yard signs from his winning effort four years ago that have been recycled to duty this year.

Patchell had a campaign fund balance of $1,574 in his 2016 annual report, which covers all of 2015 and less than a month in 2016, but his subsequent affadavits filing status indicates he has not boosted his fund substantively.

The state BOE database initially listed Patchell’s latest affidavit filing as not being received and assessed a late filing fee. Patchell told Cecil Times the report had been filed electronically on time but there may have been a computer glitch so he was re-submitting it on Friday, and the report did show up on the state BOE website Friday afternoon.

His opponent is Ed Larsen, a janitorial cleaning business owner and former pest exterminator. Larsen, one of the candidates aligned with C4L, has reported just one campaign donation in his latest filing: $50 from Joe Tropp, who heads the Cecil County C4L group and is also Wilson’s campaign treasurer. The bulk of Larsen’s campaign fund stems from loans from his personal and business accounts, totaling $3,627. After yard sign printing and other expenses, he reported a remaining cash balance of $300 in his account.

But the real campaign $ saga comes from a completely re-written, amended version of his earlier campaign finance report, which was due and filed 4/17/2018. In the revised version, filed on 5/22/2018, with eight major amendments, Larsen acknowledges for the first time spending money to purchase multiple website domains and covering the costs with three personal loans to his campaign earlier in the year. Larsen previously listed zero campaign expenditures, but now admits that he spent $2,077 during the time frame covered by his initial campaign report.

CECIL TIMES reported previously that his initial campaign filing appeared to violate state rules by not disclosing spending on website domains he purchased that were plays upon the name of his campaign rival, George Patchell. Larsen purchased at least four website domain names based on Patchell’s name and in fact created a working website, georgepatchell.com, that used his rival’s full name and an address that had been used in Patchell’s campaign four years ago. Larsen set up an automatic re-direct from that site to his own campaign site, where he solicited donations for the Larsen campaign.

After CECIL TIMES exposed the name’s the same hijacking of Patchell’s full name, Larsen then disabled the automatic re-direct to his own campaign site but retained ownership of the faux Patchell page.

[READ all about it on the previous CECIL TIMES report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2018/04/more-names-the-same-political-dirt-larsen-grabs-patchells-name-for-website-to-link-to-his-own-campaign-donation-site/ ]

Larsen’s initial finance report showed he received just one campaign donation: $50 from Bob Willick, chairman of the Maryland Campaign for Liberty and a loud voice in the local C4L group.



This Elkton-area district is currently represented by Council President Joyce Bowlsbey, who is not seeking re-election. Contending for the seat in the Republican primary are Bill Coutz, a business services executive and active volunteer in county farm and equine communities; and Rich Lewandowski, a construction business owner, who is aligned with the C4L group. (A Democrat, Cody Kirk, a dollar-store employee who earlier this month lost a bid for a seat on the Elkton town board, will face the winner of the GOP primary in the November general election.)

Coutz has been an active presence on the campaign trail and at county government meetings, showing up at Council worksessions and legislative sessions since before he announced his candidacy. In his initial finance report, filed in January, he submitted an affidavit that he had not raised or spent over $1,000. But his most recent filing shows a ramped-up campaign effort, with $8,195 in contributions and $100 in ticket purchases.

Most of his donations were quite small and from individual citizens. Among his larger donations were a $500 donation from Cunnamore LLC of Elkton, listed at the same address as the Minnihanes’s restaurant and pub. He also received $545 in a personal donation from Mario Gangemi, an engineer and leadership member of the Cecil Business Leaders group. A total of $650 in donations came from Dwight Hair, owner of Elkton Florist and several business properties in Elkton.. Another larger donor was Mark M. Smith ,Jr., of Newark, DE, with $590 in total donations.

After spending for the usual campaign yard signs, printing, and fundraiser expenses, Coutz had a tiny cash on hand balance of $34 for the rest of his campaign.

Meanwhile, in his campaign finance report filed this week, Lewandowski signed an affidavit stating that he had not raised contributions or made expenditures over $1,000. He also filed an affidavit on his earlier campaign report that was due on 4/17/2018, but was not filed until 5/4/2018. The state BOE has assessed a late filing fee of $170 against him, but Lewandowski has not yet paid the fine.

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One Response to Cecil County Council Campaign: Miller Top Fundraiser, Larsen Re-Writes History, Wilson AWOL

  1. Mr Roberts on May 26, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Thank you for this recent report regarding campaign financing. With the reports abounding of spending management it shows the voter how these possible future leaders of our community control their own finances and reporting. Interesting that the issues come more into play when you see the C4L mentioned. Isn’t this a warning sign on how anyone associated with this organization would treat our County finances and vital reporting… We need strong high character people which in turn will help clean up future hiring practices within the County. Good luck everyone.

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