Group names political donors suspected of exceeding limits

Common Cause identifies 14 from Anne Arundel

October 07, 2003|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Ten companies and four people in Anne Arundel County - many with ties to development - exceeded the state's limits for campaign contributions over the past four years, the public interest group Common Cause/Maryland said in a report issued yesterday.

"This goes to the issue of, `How much influence do wealthy voters have?' and `How much should they have?'" said James Browning, the nonprofit group's executive director. Development is a commonly debated issue in a county where political leaders regularly must weigh land preservation against growth.

Several donors listed on the report said they are investigating, but many also said they question its accuracy.

State law prohibits individuals or companies from giving more than $10,000 in contributions during a four-year election cycle. That includes donations to all candidates, political action committees and other groups. Donors are responsible for monitoring their contributions.

Koch Realty of Annapolis topped the report distributed by Common Cause, which pulled its information from state election records. According to the group, Koch Realty made $27,175 in contributions in the cycle that ended Dec. 31 last year.

The recipients included Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael E. Busch and four current Anne Arundel County Council members: Democrats Bill D. Burlison and Pamela G. Beidle, as well as Republicans Cathleen M. Vitale and Edward R. Reilly.

"We are looking into this immediately," company President Gary Koch said in a written statement released yesterday. "We have worked in all areas to comply with the law and we will comply with the election law. If we exceeded any legal limits it was unintentional."

Common Cause gathered the information from the state Board of Elections Web site, Browning said.

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