Alleged use of paid workers on Election Day investigated

February 10, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Silver Spring-based nonprofit group known for its work on campaign reform issues is under investigation by the state prosecutor's office in the possible violation of Maryland election laws.

Progressive Maryland, a liberal advocacy group, is accused of paying more than 30 people to pass out sample ballots on Election Day last year. The ballots supported, among others, gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., both Democrats.

State law prohibits candidates and their representatives or advocates from paying people to canvass on Election Day.

"We received a call from their executive director, Tom Hucker, sometime before the general election saying that they were an advocacy group, and they wanted to know what they could do on Election Day," State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said yesterday.

"I clearly told him they could not pay people on Election Day," Montanarelli said. "I thought he understood what I was telling him, but apparently he didn't."

Hucker was out of town and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Anyone found guilty of illegally paying others to advocate for a candidate on Election Day could face up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine for each person hired, Montanarelli said.

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