After charging his opponent with trying to hide the source of some campaign money, Republican county executive nominee Robert R. Neall suggested yesterday that Democrat Theodore J. Sophocleus has been tainted by a developer's contributions.
Sophocleus denied any improprieties in his campaign finance reports yesterday and challenged Neall to a match of contributors lists.
Neall brought his charges to the Office of State Prosecutor on Monday after his uncle, William McGinnis, and several other senior citizens disputed a Sophocleus finance statement, which listed them as buying tickets to the Democrat's April 22 fund-raiser.
Neall also said that Sophocleus should explain why he has accepted $1,800 from developer Samuel Shpak, who lost a battle to build a garbage incinerator in Odenton in 1984.
"This Mr. Greenspace voted to put an incinerator in the middle of Odenton and young Robert had to go to work in the middle of Christmas to get it pulled," Neall said.
Sophocleus, a two-term County Councilman from Linthicum, was among five council members who voted to approve a state-subsidized industrial development bond in December 1984 to help finance the project. Neall, a former House of Delegates minority leader, and other General Assembly delegation members lobbied the state Department of Economic Development to veto the use of public money for the incinerator.
Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, who represents Odenton, credited Neall with helping kill the incinerator but said, "It doesn't surprise me that (Shpak) would contribute to any candidate."
Sophocleus, who initially opposed the incinerator project, did not comment yesterday on his 1984 vote in favor of the public bond, choosing instead to attack Neall's source of campaign funds, which have surpassed $300,000.
"We'll ask him how come Bruce Bereano got $150,000 of (Neall's) tickets to sell or why Jay Litty is calling and soliciting $1,000 donations from his friends," Sophocleus said.
Bereano, a confidant of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, regularly reports more income than any other lobbyist working the General Assembly. Litty, a prominent county developer, is a frequent contributor to political campaigns.
Neall, while preparing for a debate tonight at the Odenton Fire Hall, said he stumbled upon a pattern of what he called "ghost contributors" to his opponent's campaign. He accused Sophocleus of compiling a list of phony contributors to mask what he called the unknown source of cash contributions, which amount to $25,521 since November 1988. "I think he had some people willing to give him a (significant) amount of cash and he had to find a legal way to get it into the report," Neall said.
Neall offered no evidence to substantiate his charges beyond his uncle and five other residents of the Glen Square senior housing project. But he said they alone represent enough of a pattern to question how Sophocleus raised his primary campaign money, which totaled $222,438 through Aug. 29.
Sophocleus responded that the specific contributions in question reflect his campaign's practice of dividing up proceeds from "cake wheel" raffles and attributing the money raised to individuals who attended fund-raising events.
As for the balance of more than $25,000 in cash contributions, he cited the large number of people who buy $25 tickets to his fund-raisers.