Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens has purchased advertisements on local Web sites with her campaign funds, although she has not announced plans to run for any office.
A Democrat who is prevented by term limits from running for re-election, Owens has expressed interest in running for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is campaigning for U.S. Senate. Federal law prohibits the use of state campaign funds for a federal race.
Michael Brown, Owens' campaign treasurer and spokesman, said she has spent about $9,000 in campaign funds over the last few weeks to run ads on the Web sites of The Sun and The Capital of Annapolis. The ads ask readers to participate in an online survey about local issues, and do not mention a political race.
Four years ago, U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger faced criticism for his use of state campaign funds when the then-Baltimore County executive ran for Congress.
Republicans claimed Ruppersberger improperly used state campaign funds to pay a political consultant in the months when he was preparing his congressional bid.