GOP sues to help Sauerbrey more

October 01, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writer

State Republicans went to court yesterday seeking permission to spend more money on behalf of their gubernatorial candidate, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who is hamstrung by public financing laws.

In a lawsuit filed in Frederick County Circuit Court, the Maryland GOP and the Frederick County Republican State Central Committee asked for a change in state rules to facilitate so-called independent expenditures by the party on Mrs. Sauerbrey's behalf.

At issue is the state's public financing law, which was enacted in 1974 but has not been put into use until this year.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, a four-term state delegate, accepted public financing for her campaign.

By so doing, she is limited to spending just under $1 million in the general election.

In an advisory opinion issued last week, the state attorney general's office said any money spent by the Republican Party on Mrs. Sauerbrey's behalf would count against her $1 million publicly financed fund.

The opinion said the state GOP and its county affiliates are even precluded from printing sample ballots with Mrs. Sauerbrey's name on them.

The ruling is a blow to Mrs. Sauerbrey, whose Democratic opponent, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, expects to spend roughly $2.5 million in the general election race.

Although independent groups can spend money to boost Mrs. Sauerbrey's candidacy, it would be "nonsensical" to say that the state Republican Party could make truly independent expenditures on her behalf, the attorney general's opinion said.

Robert Flanagan, a state delegate and attorney for the Sauerbrey campaign, said he and lawyers for the Republican Party would meet Monday with representatives from the attorney general's office to try to settle the dispute.

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