Sen. Sharon W. Hornberger is taking steps to clear her name, which she says has been smeared by fellow Carroll Republican Central Committee members during an ongoing federal investigation into the panel's 1988 campaign activities.
The Federal Election Commission recently released findings regarding an "inquiry" requested by "certain members" of the central committee, Hornberger said in an Oct. 22 letter to The Carroll County Sun.
The FEC has been investigating the committee's handling of 24 presidential campaign contributions totaling $14,700 that were funneled from state Republican accounts to the county's federal GOP account without the knowledge of five committee members.
Hornberger acknowledges she discussed the transfer with only one other committee member. She maintains the transfer was legal.
Other committee members were angered that money was being deposited and spent without their knowledge and requested the investigation.
Hornberger said she had felt compelled not to discuss the case or respond to fellow committee members who "blatantly disregarded" federal confidentiality laws and "blackened" her name.
Confidentiality laws allow individuals to discuss matters concerning only themselves -- not other issues or individuals -- until notified the case is closed by the FEC.
She said she feels free to discuss the matter now because central committee treasurer Louis E. Wiser Jr. told the panel at a meeting several weeks ago that the investigation was concluded.
However, Wiser said Thursday that a letter he received from the FEC said the investigation is not completed. The letter stated the committee would not be penalized, Wiser said.
Chairman Donald Taylor said he understood from the meeting that the investigation is open but that no action would be taken against the committee.
FEC officials said last week that the case is open. The agency does not release information about investigations, including names of "respondents" -- or defendants -- until a case is closed.
Hornberger said FEC officials told her that she is not a respondent in the case. She said she is a "witness." She said she is not aware of any other respondents and has not received a letter from the FEC.
She was never "the focus of the inquiry," she wrote. "No violations were alleged against me, and at the end of the inquiry process no charges were brought against me."
Hornberger said she also bases her belief that the investigation is completed on correspondence between the FEC and Gary W. Bauer, treasurer for the committee's federal campaign account in 1988. The FEC fined Bauer $1,000 for failing to keep adequate records of the 24 contributions, and neglecting to report them correctly or deposit them on a timely basis.
Bauer said the letter he received from the FEC also said the investigation remains open.