Schmoke campaign distributes to the not necessarily needy

September 08, 1994|By Frank A. DeFilippo

Mayor Kurt Schmoke's campaign committee has made a major investment in the next General Assembly and a significant down payment on his re-election plans for next year.

The roundelay of campaign cash is a case study of money in motion, from the bank accounts of cash-cow contractors into the campaign coffers of willing client-candidates. And, by gum, the size of the check is a calling card to who's important and, well, who's not quite.

According to the latest financial report on file at the State Board of Elections, The Kurt Schmoke Committee transferred nearly $26,000 to 33 primary election candidates for the legislature as well as to Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. ($1,000), State's Attorney Stuart Simms ($1,000) and the state Democratic Party ($1,000).

It's an eclectic list of blacks and whites, challengers and incumbents, mainly from the Baltimore area as well as ministers of influence in the General Assembly. But the recipients of Mr. Schmoke's largess also include two Montgomery County delegates, two Baltimore County legislators and the House speaker, Casper R. Taylor Jr., of Cumberland, who received $1,000 from Mr. Schmoke even though Mr. Taylor has raised more than $200,000 of his own.

This is not the first time Mr. Schmoke's committee has invested in other campaigns. But his latest installment payments underline a growing trend of formidable fund-raisers by upper-crust elected officials to buy into General Assembly campaigns to assure loyalty in the legislature as well as to shut out boat-rockers.

Mr. Taylor has said he will use much of his $200,000 to underwrite the campaign of friendly delegates as will state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller spread out a large portion of his $350,000 nest egg to help elect a loyal and friendly state Senate.

But Mr. Schmoke's generosity has a dual purpose: His $26,000 will not only help influence legislators to continue the bail-out of his impoverished city, but the boodle is also a cash advance on his re-election campaign for mayor. It's a signal to his major opponent, city council President Mary Pat Clarke, that campaign money is a major force of human motivation. Translation: It'll be tough for those who accepted payouts to say no when Mr. Schmoke calls in the chits.

It was impossible to determine the total Mr. Schmoke has raised because the financial report's cover sheet was missing. However, the bulk of the money in The Kurt Schmoke Committee report was raised from contractors; two of those contractors are among eight whose records have been subpoenaed from the city's Housing Authority in connection with a federal probe of $23 million in no-bid repair contracts.

The two contractors whose records have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury are: Sedrick F. Chavis Contractor Inc., which contributed $2,600 to Mr. Schmoke's campaign, and J & M Construction Inc., which is listed as giving $1,200.

Other contractors who contributed to Mr. Schmoke are: K & K Painting, Inc. ($1,300); National Roofing Co. ($600); Paul Simon Roofer ($2,000); Oak Construction Corp. ($750); Allied Contractors ($500); CAM Construction ($1,000); Cherry Hill Construction ($3,000); Construction Dynamics ($1,500); Cotten Construction ($1,500); G.E. Tignall & Co. $4,000); Carl Streuver ($1,500); K & K Cartage ($4,000); Peterson Lumber Co. ($1,000); P & J Contracting ($1,750); and Re-Jo Construction ($250).

Other candidates who received contributions from Mr. Schmoke's campaign are: Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings (two contributions totaling $1,900); Del. John Jefferies ($500); Lem Chester ($500); Del. Maggie McIntosh (three contributions totaling $1,120); Del. Ann Marie Doory (two contributions totaling $600); Del. Frank Boston (two contributions totaling $2,000); Del. Salima Marriott ($500); Del. Curt Anderson (two contributions totaling $1,000); Talmadge Branch ($500); Del. Marsha Perry, of Anne Arundel County ($250).

Also, John Mahoney ($500); state Sen. Decatur Trotter of Prince George's County ($500); state Sen. Nancy Murphy, of Baltimore County ($1,000); Del. Elijah Cummings ($1,000); Del. Kenneth Masters of Baltimore County ($300); Del. Margaret Murphy ($450); Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Council ($240); Del. Tony Fulton ($400); Dels. Michael Gordon ($150) and Gene Counihan ($250), both of Montgomery County; Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg ($500); Del. Delores Kelly ($350); Del. Michael Busch ($450); Joanne Benson ($500); state Sen. Clarence Blount ($2,000); Del. Donald Fry ($250); Del. Gerald Curran ($600); Del. Hattie Harrison ($500); Del. Sheila Hixson

($400); Del. James Campbell ($400); Del. Clarence Davis ($1,000); Philip Deitchman ($200).

Mr. Taylor surely didn't need Mr. Schmoke's $1,000. But as every political rubbernecker knows, it's Mr. Taylor who choreographs the dance of legislation in the House of Delegates.

And Mr. Rawlings, as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is the negotiant for much of the rescue money that's shipped from Annapolis to Baltimore. And his sidekick, Mr. Rosenberg (a City College classmate of Mr. Schmoke) presides over the capital budget subcommittee that prepares the pork chops for distribution to the city and counties.

As innocent as all of this may seem, there's nonetheless a warp in the system that allows the wholesale purchase of legislators by other legislators and elected officials.

It used to be argued that legislators were a rubber stamp for the governor. Now they're merely rubber stamps for legislative leaders and mayors.

Frank A. DeFilippo writes on Maryland politics from Owings Mills.

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