A Republican businessman has asked Delegate John R. Leopold, R-Pasadena, to return a $1,500 campaign contribution, saying the District 31 Senate candidate "misled" him.
And he's asking other Leopold contributors to do the same.
Tom Redmond, owner of Redmond's Towing in Pasadena, said yesterday that he has written to 500 people who contributed to Leopold's campaign during the last three years, encouraging them to ask for their money back.
Meanwhile, the General Assembly's highest-paid lobbyist said he also is recommending his clients request that Leopold return their contributions.
Bruce Bereano, an Annapolis attorney who represents the tobacco industry, medical professionals and retail merchants among dozens of other clients, said, "I want to have the exact facts and dates in front of me.
Then I will be requesting the money back."
Both Bereano and Redmond said they contributed to Leopold's campaign believing the delegate was running for county executive. But Leopold, who had run unofficially for county executive since 1986, decided in June to run against state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, for the District 31 Senate seat.
"He misled me, and I think he misled a lot of other people," said Redmond, who received his money back from Leopold Sept. 4. "He misrepresented what he really wanted to do."
"My clients strongly support Senator Jimeno and had no desire to help Delegate Leopold run against him," Bereano said.
Bereano could not say how much money his clients had contributed to Leopold's campaign. But, he said, "It was far more than a couple hundred dollars."
Leopold, who raised $163,354 during his unofficial campaign for county executive, noted yesterday that he has always said he will return contributions to anyone who asked.
"That Mr. Redmond would write to all these contributors is an unfortunate example of dirty politics at its worst," Leopold said. "His gutter tactics are deplored by many people."
Tim Simmons, a Chesterfield resident who gave Leopold $100, said he was suspicious of Redmond's motives. "He's upset that John's running against his friend," he said.
"I didn't feel like I got cheated," Simmons said. "I was supporting him (Leopold), not that (county executive) office."
Redmond and Severna Park resident Donald Hood are the only contributors who have requested their money back, Leopold said.
Hood, who donated $700 to the GOP candidate, declined to comment yesterday.
Leopold's massive campaign war chest -- more than triple any other General Assembly candidate -- has been an issue since he entered the Senate race. His opponent, who has raised $40,703, has repeatedly said Leopold should not be able to use the money.
"It's like going around the neighborhood collecting money for a skating rink and then building a baseball stadium," Jimeno said. "It's an ethical problem."
Last summer, Democratic Party officials said they had considered encouraging disgruntled Leopold contributors to ask for their money back.
But no unified effort ever emerged.
Redmond, who supported Leopold's House of Delegates bid four years ago, said he contributed when he thought Leopold was running for county executive "because I would like to have seen a county executive from Pasadena. It would have meant more good things for Pasadena."
But Redmond, who has since given Jimeno $500, said he has grown disillusioned with Leopold.