Superintendent's $25 to candidate questioned

August 21, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's token contribution to a Howard County school board candidate has raised eyebrows among other candidates.

At least one is urging former school board member Karen Campbell to return the $25 donation to Dr. Hickey and his wife, Nicole. Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin, whose performance is reviewed annually by board members, also contributed $25 to Dr. Campbell's campaign.

"There are some potential conflicts of interests there," said school board candidate Jamie Kendrick, a Democrat.

He noted that Dr. Campbell, if elected, would have to help decide whether to reappoint Dr. Hickey as superintendent and would review Dr. Kalin's performance for future pay raises.

"It's not so much the amount, but the principle of it," Mr. Kendrick said. "It probably would be wise to give it back."

Delroy Cornick, a Democrat from Columbia running for school board, said that "while I understand these people have their rights as citizens, I do question the judgment of the donors and the recipient. If [I got a donation that] came from the superintendent, I probably would have returned it."

Dr. Campbell said she was unaware that Dr. Hickey and Dr. Kalin had given money to her campaign because her treasurer handles the donations. A veterinarian who works part time from her West Friendship farm, Dr. Campbell left the school board in 1992 when her six-year term expired.

School board member Deborah Kendig also donated $50 to Dr. Campbell's campaign, and school board member Sandra French contributed $100.

Dr. Campbell said Ms. Kendig and Ms. French are longtime friends of hers. She said she had contributed $200 to Ms. French's two campaigns for the school board.

Neither Dr. Hickey nor Dr. Kalin contributed to any other school board candidate.

"I would expect if they did that, they'd cover their bases" and donate to other candidates as well, Dr. Campbell said. "Maybe they like me as a board member. I've never made any promises to anybody, and everybody knows that."

Dr. Hickey said he gave money to Dr. Campbell, a Democrat, because "she's the only one who's been a board member. I think she did a good job when she was on the board before, so I made a token contribution to her campaign. If someone sees that as an ethical problem, that's unfortunate."

"When Karen was on the board, she voted her mind on everything. Because I work [for] the Board of Education doesn't deprive me of my right to participate as a citizen," he said.

Dr. Kalin could not be reached for comment Friday.

Although Dr. Campbell received support from several other school system employees, she reported raising only $1,750, fourth among the five candidates. She lent $300 to herself and reported $716 in expenses and a cash balance of $1,033 as of Aug. 9, the last day for candidates to record their financial information.

Mr. Kendrick, a University of Maryland student, raised $5,390, more than any of his four competitors vying for two seats in the fall nonpartisan election.

He even reported a contribution from one of his competitors, Dr. Cornick, who gave $50 in September 1993 when Mr. Kendrick first made public his intention to run. Dr. Cornick didn't enter the race until April.

"I offered to give it back to him, but he declined," Mr. Kendrick said.

Mr. Kendrick, a Howard High School graduate, got several donations from principals and teachers around the county -- including some who taught him.

"Some of those people are on my campaign committee," Mr. Kendrick said. "Some of those are people who think, yes, a younger person should be on the school board."

The Committee to Elect Ginny Thomas gave him $20, and the Committee to Elect Michael Weal boosted his coffers by $40. Friends of James E. Malone Jr. donated $10.

Delegate Thomas, a Columbia Democrat, is running for the state Senate seat in District 13A, while Mr. Weal, an Ellicott City Democrat, is running for the county state's attorney job. Mr. Malone is an Arbutus firefighter seeking to become a state delegate in District 12A.

Mr. Kendrick reported expenses totaling $4,751 and a cash balance of nearly $600 as of Aug. 9.

Stephen Bounds, a Lisbon resident and a Republican, was the second-highest money-raiser, reporting contributions of $4,100, mostly from Ellicott City and western Howard County residents. He received a $100 donation from Friends of Chuck Ecker, a committee to re-elect County Executive Charles I. Ecker for a second term.

Mr. Bounds, a lawyer, reported expenses of $3,977, mostly for printing campaign brochures and materials. He had a cash balance of $122.

Dr. Cornick, a retired Morgan State University business professor, reported raising $2,390, including a $300 loan to himself. The Columbia father of five got a $50 donation from Alice Haskins, the county's middle school director and a close friend, and $10 from the Committee to Elect Ginny Thomas.

County Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass contributed $10 each to Dr. Cornick, Dr. Campbell and Mr. Kendrick.

Robert Minehart Jr., a Columbia Democrat who was last to enter the race, also was last in contributions. He got one donation, a $415 gift from himself, and in-kind contributions of $685 -- family and friends donated posters. He reported a cash balance of $77.

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