City police union hoping to increase political influence

Retired, current officers encouraged to donate toward $100,000 goal

October 29, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

The union that represents Baltimore police officers has begun an aggressive campaign to raise money for its political action committee with the goal of donating thousands of dollars to candidates across the state.

Gary McLhinney, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said he started the effort two weeks ago and hopes to raise $100,000 by the end of next year by having officers donate $1 to $3 of each paycheck to the committee.

"We can't strike or boycott, so we have to influence the process in other ways," McLhinney said.

The committee will give the cash to politicians and organizations that support police issues, he said, and will buy advertisements to push the union's causes. Police Officer Donna J. Stauffer is the committee's chairwoman.

McLhinney said 700 officers and retired union members have signed up, pledging $33,000. He said union representatives are visiting district stations to solicit donations from the department's 3,100 officers and are mailing requests to more than 2,000 retired union members.

The union's lobbyist, Bruce Carlin, said the committee would help him get his message to state lawmakers.

"When they come up for re-election," Carlin said, "we'll be there to support them if they are there to support us."

The committee, which was formed in 1996, raised $4,200 between December 1999 and November, according to state records. It gave candidates and other committees $3,250 during that period.

Across the state and country, other police unions have formed political action committees to support candidates and police-related issues.

"We encourage them to be politically active in every way they see fit," said Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police.

Baltimore County's police union also has had a political action committee for several years.

"We look at candidates, and we look at how candidates feel about issues concerning public safety, primarily law enforcement issues," said Cole Weston, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4.

Weston refused to say how much money the Lodge 4 committee raises or spends each year. But according to records filed with the state board of elections, it raised $1,165 between December 1999 and November, the last time the committee was required to report its income. It doled out $1,850 in the same period - including money left over from the year before - to candidates and political action committees.

Sun staff writer Tim Craig contributed to this article.

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