Pro-Sauerbrey sample ballots assailed State says they're legal

Mikulski officials object to party mixing: ELECTION 1998 : MARYLAND

November 04, 1998|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

Campaign officials for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski cried foul yesterday when they spotted sample ballots that listed Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey atop a raft of Democrats.

The ballots -- printed in the yellow, black and white used by the Sauerbrey campaign -- were handed out in various jurisdictions. Some, in addition to Sauerbrey, endorsed William Donald Schaefer for comptroller. Others listed other candidates, including Mikulski.

And they were perfectly legal, state election officials said, because the sample ballots carried an "authority of" line saying who paid for them.

"It's a free speech issue," said Linda Lemoyne of the state election board. "Anyone can endorse anyone they want to."

Michael Morrill, Mikulski's campaign manager, said that because the ballots included a U.S. Senate candidate, federal regulations apply, making the ballots illegal.

Not so, said Karen Koyne of the Federal Election Commission. LTC She said such ballots must carry a disclaimer if any candidate paid for them, but none did, so the authority line sounded fine.

The ballots had "The Peoples Choice" at the top, and "Authority: Franck Babusci, Chairman" at the bottom. Babusci, a former Baltimore public works official, is known to be a Schaefer fan. He used his Peoples Choice committee in 1995 to print trading cards criticizing Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

City police Lt. Carmine R. Baratta Jr. said an officer received a complaint about the ballots at a Pratt Street polling place and brought one to the Southeastern District police station.

"It was examined there and determined that there was nothing illegal about it," Baratta said.

Morrill also complained that the ballots were being handed out by Sauerbrey campaign workers who said they were official Sauerbrey ballots.

"That is just not true," said Jim Dornan, spokesman for the Sauerbrey campaign. "Barbara Mikulski should get her facts straight before she starts complaining.

"This was an independent guy who printed up these ballots. We didn't have anything to do with it," Dornan said. "It might come as a surprise to Mikulski that not everyone in Maryland votes along party lines."

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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