Sophocleus attacks foe in executive race for ties to Bereano

October 14, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

State Del. Theodore J. Sophocleus attempted last night to paint his Republican opponent for county executive as a legislator beholden to Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano.

During a televised debate at Anne Arundel Community College, Del. John G. Gary acknowledged that he and Mr. Bereano are friends and that he has accepted gifts, mostly tickets to charitable fund-raisers, from the lobbyist.

A federal fraud case involving political campaign contributions is pending against Mr. Bereano.

Then, taking the offensive in a free-for-all exchange, Mr. Gary said his Democratic rival charged about $14 a day to his state expense account last winter to travel from his Linthicum home to Annapolis where the General Assembly was in session.

Mr. Sophocleus charged the state for $1,144 in expenses for the year, Mr. Gary said. By contrast, the GOP nominee said, he has received $244 in reimbursements during his entire 12-year legislative career.

"I attend the same [charity] golf tournaments as Mr. Gary, and I pay for the tickets out of my own pocket," Mr. Sophocleus answered. "You're supposed to support the charities, not Mr. Bereano.

"I don't think you ought to be feeding at the lobbyists' trough and then say, 'I don't take money from the state.' "

State legislators are given expense accounts, reimbursing them for travel, lodgings and meals during the 90-day session.

During the 60-minute debate, which was televised live on Jones Intercable's Channel 22, the candidates exchanged views on FTC issues ranging from the troubled pension system for elected and appointed officials to economic development.

Mr. Gary was critical of his opponent's 1989 vote as a county councilman that approved a pension plan that allows appointed and part-time elected officials to retire at age 50.

Mr. Sophocleus said he based his decision on the testimony of financial experts and the administration of County Executive O. James Lighthizer. He said he quickly realized it was a mistake. Unfortunately, he said, he did not win his 1990 campaign for executive and could not correct the problem.

If Mr. Sophocleus thought the pension reform was a mistake, then he should remove himself from the pension plan, Mr. Gary said. The 55-year-old Democrat and his wife, Alice, his former council aide, began receiving about $900 a month from the retirement plan in 1990.

"Ted just doesn't get it," Mr. Gary said. "What I'm critical of is, after he thought it was incorrect, he should have lived by what he said he believed in and not accepted it."

The debate, sponsored by the Anne Arundel Trade Council, will be rebroadcast on Jones today at 3:30 p.m. and Monday at 7:30 p.m. North Arundel Cable will air the program on Channel 52 Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

It can be seen on TCI Cablevision's Channel 15 at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and Nov. 7.

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