Md. campaign committee being formed by Ehrlich Funds: Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he plans to spread up to $125,000 to state GOP races in 1998 and dismissed speculation about plans for a gubernatorial bid.

The Political Game

February 04, 1997|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

YOU COULD call it BobPAC.

Well, technically, not. The Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee actually will not be a political action committee once it is formed, probably later this week.

But it sure will function as one.

It seems Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican from Maryland's 2nd District, is expanding his horizons by starting a state continuing campaign committee, instead of limiting himself to just the federal level.

The congressman would appear to be casting an eye to the future, when he may file for a statewide office, like, say, governor. But for now, "These contributions are going to be going to candidates in the '98 elections supporting a conservative agenda," he said.

And with a fund-raising target of $125,000 to spread around in next year's elections, Ehrlich will be able to buy a lot of good will statewide among grass-roots Republicans as he looks ahead to, perhaps, a future U.S. Senate race.

The beauty of having a state campaign committee is that under Maryland law, he would be able to make "transfers" of $6,000 to the state campaign accounts of as many other candidates as he wants, so long as the money holds out -- just the same as the laws for PACs in the state.

If he were to give money to those same candidates from his congressional campaign account, such transfers would be considered "contributions" under Maryland law and subject to the state limits on contributions.

That means he would be able to contribute a maximum of only $4,000 to any one candidate and no more than $10,000 to all candidates in the four-year election cycle for 1995-1998.

Ehrlich said the beneficiaries of his future largess would be candidates for the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates.

Although creation of the state committee is sure to fuel speculation about a bid for governor next time out, Ehrlich brushes that aside.

Just last month, he points out, he officially agreed to co-chair the 1998 gubernatorial campaign of Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

"Don't forget: This is not a candidacy," Ehrlich said.

Well, at least not for now.

Shaken, not stirred, at city liquor board?

The situation surrounding the Board of Liquor License Commissioners of Baltimore City -- a k a the city liquor board -- is approaching comic proportions.

Although the terms of the board's three members expire this year, the task of appointing new commissioners -- or reappointing old ones -- was expected to cause a small stir in some circles. A few small factors, however, have complicated it further.

Last month, Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman lost a fight with other city senators over persuading the commissioners -- whose votes the senators generally control -- to hire her longtime political supporter William J. Madonna Jr. as executive secretary.

In losing that skirmish, Hoffman held control over naming at least one of the commissioners. -- appointments that are among the most coveted patronage plums in the senators' control.

Hoffman apparently struck a deal with a majority of senators and managed to squeeze Sen. George W. Della Jr. out of the picture, as a payback for not backing Madonna. (In the end, Sen. Larry Young got what had been Della's pick.)

Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, the city's Senate delegation chairman, had the votes of a majority of the city senators and sent to Glendening the senators' recommendations for filling the $18,000-a-year part-time posts ($18,500 for the chairman).

The three names that went up were Leonard R. Skolnik, Hoffman's pick; George G. Brown, the current board chairman and Senate Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount's guy on the board; and William A. "Pete" Welch, the son of City Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch, whom Young nominated.

Apparently as part of the deal for sending those names to Glendening over Della's objections, the majority of the senators agreed to support Nathan C. Irby Jr. -- a former city councilman, state senator and McFadden's political ally -- for the executive secretary's job.

All was going swimmingly until Wednesday, when the liquor board did not vote, as expected, on Irby, who was to be named on at least an interim basis until the new board takes over May 1.

McFadden went through the roof, calling for the senators to "clean house."

"It has become apparent that this delegation is receiving little or no respect, and this chair will not tolerate disrespect to those of us who work so hard," he wrote Friday in a letter to other city senators. After a few copies found their way out, McFadden apparently thought better of the language and replaced it with a dramatically toned-down letter.

Irby, it seems, had not yet applied.

It can only get better from here.

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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