Council Panel Opposes Limits On Campaign Gifts

August 20, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Proposed limits on campaign contributions failed to win the support of an Annapolis City Council committee last night.

The three-member Rules Committee voted, 2-1, in favor of retaining existing provisions of the city Election Code that place no limits on contributions.

But Ward 5 Democrat Carl O. Snowden, who supports limits, said hewill argue strenuously in favor of such caps when the full council takes up the issue next month.

"Tonight's vote is a clear indication that reform is not a high priority of a majority of the Rules Committee, and I intend to fight for true campaign reform," said Snowden, the committee's chairman.

The committee's other two members -- Ruth C. Gray, R-Ward 4, and M. Theresa DeGraff, R-Ward 6 -- voted against limiting contributions. Both argued that the limits would hurt challengers because incumbents typically enter campaigns with more money and therefore are not nearly as dependent on contributions.

"By limiting the contributions . . . you make it very difficult for an outsider or someone new to win an election," DeGraff said.

Snowden disagreed, saying limits are needed to "ensure an even playing field" because well-connected incumbents with experience in fund-raising have a much easier time building up a campaign war chest than do challengers.

Snowden's proposal, one of four before the committee, would have limited contributions from an individual or organization to $200 per candidate for each four-year election cycle.

He also wants to limit individuals and organizations to $200 in overall contributions to candidates for city office during each election cycle.

The alderman sought the lowest limits among the four campaign-finance proposals.

The city Board of Elections proposed limiting contributions from an individual or organization to $1,000 per candidate and overall contributions from a single source to $2,500 per election cycle.

The committee's recommendations, part of a series of proposed election reforms, now go to the City Council. The council is to consider the measures next month and vote on them in October.

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