Robert R. Neall's bid to succeed Anne Arundel County Executive O. James Lighthizer has turned decidedly nasty. Mr. Neall, poring through rival Theodore Sophocleus' campaign finance report, says he has unearthed questionable cash contributions including money from six residents of a seniors' apartment complex who claim they never paid for tickets to a fund-raiser. The tip-off: the name of Mr. Neall's maternal uncle was listed as having bought a $25 ticket to a Sophocleus bull roast. The meticulous Mr. Neall says he has discovered a raft of errors ranging from the simple transposition of numerical columns to cash contributions above the $100 legal limit.
Mr. Neall contends these infractions point to the possibility of laundered contributions -- from sources Mr. Sophocleus would rather keep secret, or from benefactors who have already surpassed the legal limit of giving.
For his part, Mr. Sophocleus says the errors resulted from bookkeeping mistakes rather than any attempt to circumvent election laws. The seniors, he says, were given free tickets after their apartment complex donated the proceeds of a bake sale to his campaign. Even if all this suggests just a collection of harmless mixups, it raises questions about Mr. Sophocleus' management abilities.