Comptroller candidate facing late report fines Finance records overdue for Joan Pratt's campaign

Campaign 1998

August 28, 1998|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, who as a candidate for state comptroller is campaigning to be the state's fiscal watchdog, was sent a past-due notice yesterday for failing to file a legally mandated campaign finance report with Maryland election officials.

She was one of more than 40 candidates sent notices yesterday, but she was the only one running for comptroller to receive one, according to election board records.

Pratt is accruing late fees with each passing business day, election officials warned in the notice. Pratt -- who is facing, among others, former Gov. William Donald Schaefer in the race for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller -- is more than a week late in filing her report.

Pratt and her campaign chairman, Julius Henson, did not return telephone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Campaign finance reports list the amount of money raised and spent by candidates and include the names of contributors -- information crucial to voters, said Kathleen S. Skullney, executive director of Common Cause/Maryland, a watchdog group.

"In a campaign atmosphere where big money practically guarantees the outcome of any election, looking at contribution reports is the most fundamental disclosure a voter needs," Skullney said. "If the candidate hasn't even fulfilled this most basic obligation to the people of Maryland, then he or she cannot even begin to open his or her mouth about what is in the public interest."

She added that a comptroller candidate's failure to file on time "certainly isn't a way to assure the voters of fiscal responsibility."

Pratt, a 46-year-old accountant who was elected Baltimore's comptroller in 1995, is one of six Democrats and six Republicans seeking to succeed Louis L. Goldstein as Maryland's comptroller.

She has relied on a strong volunteer base to run her campaign -- which some see as a way to build a following for a possible run for mayor of Baltimore next year.

Under state election law, candidates who fail to file reports on time must pay a late fee of $20 a day for each of the first six business days, and $10 for each subsequent business day. The maximum fine is $250.

Other candidates sent notices yesterday for failing to file their reports include Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a Democratic state delegate from Baltimore running for the Senate seat vacated by Larry Young, and Baltimore City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, a Democrat, who like other candidates is required to file a report even though there are no city elections this year.

Pub Date: 8/28/98

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