ANNAPOLIS -- The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor charged yesterday that Gov. William Donald Schaefer's campaign set up a new fund-raising committee with the "obvious intent to evade Maryland's campaign limits."
Lois Shepard, the wife and running mate of GOP gubernatorial candidate William S. Shepard, said the creation Sept. 6 of the "Citizens for Steinberg" committee violates the spirit of state election laws and demonstrates that the governor is worried that "voters are slipping away."
"The bottom line is, the Schaefer/Steinberg administration is in serious trouble with their voters, and they are not going to be able to spend their way out of it by this or any other means," she said.
The governor's principal campaign committee, "Reflections," has already raised in excess of $2 million compared to approximately $70,000 raised by the Shepards.
Jim Smith, Mr. Schaefer's campaign manager, acknowledged Thursday that "Citizens for Steinberg" was created so donors who have already given the maximum $2,000 to Mr. Schaefer may legally give another $2,000 to the governor's ticket through the new committee. He said it was a technique frequently used by political campaigns, including Mr. Schaefer's 1986 campaign. The only difference four years ago, he said, was that the "Citizens for Steinberg" committee was set up in conjunction with a specific fund-raising event honoring Mr. Steinberg.
The lieutenant governor, who plans to run for governor himself in four years and could begin fund raising as early as next year, said this week he has asked the campaign to change the name of the new committee so his supporters are not misled.
He said he had no objection to a fund-raising committee being established under another name, although he said he was worried there could be a backlash if voters believed the campaign was raising excessive amounts of money.
Mrs. Shepard said of the new fund-raising effort: "I suppose in a way it is flattering."
Voters, she said, believe Mr. Schaefer is an arrogant, big spender whose priorities are big-ticket projects such as sports stadiums rather than important programs such as education.
"I think they [the Democratic team] have a great deal to be worried about," she said.