Disclosure records vary

Some candidates gave detailed listings

others hardly bothered

Maryland Votes 2006

August 06, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

The financial disclosure records of candidates running in Harford County's Sept. 12 primary can provide a glimpse into the personal lives of the hopefuls for public office, from their businesses and vacation homes to their salaries and debts.

That is, if the form is filled out. Many candidates' files with the county's law department appear to have been hurriedly completed and in some cases ignored. Some candidates did not answer simple questions such as how property was acquired or from whom. A few failed to fill out entire pages.

William J. Coates, a Democratic candidate for the District A council seat, filled out his name and "county council" for the office he is seeking. The rest of the three-page form has "N/A" written in each box, followed by his signature.

According to court records, Coates faced foreclosure in 1999 on a Joppa home that he has listed as his current residence in other campaign filings. Coates could not be reached for comment.

Senior Assistant County Attorney Deborah S. Duvall said the county's Board of Ethics will receive a packet of all the candidates' forms this week and will review them to determine whether candidates answered truthfully and completely. If errors or omissions are found, Duvall said, candidates will be given 15 days to make corrections.

Elected and appointed officials must file disclosures to show financial dealings or gifts that could raise questions of conflict of interest or undue influence. They also must list their assets, investments and any debts.

County Executive David R. Craig was an assistant principal in the county school system when he was appointed in July last year. His disclosure form shows that he drew income from both government jobs.

Craig, a Republican, received $70,000 from the school system in 2005, which he said in an interview included his salary from January through July and a one-time payout for unused sick leave.

Working for the county as executive from July through December contributed an additional $40,900. Including a state pension and his salary from Havre de Grace, Craig's income in 2005 was about $133,000, significantly more than his $82,000 annual salary as an assistant principal or his $90,000 annual salary as county executive.

Craig, who has served on an ethics commission in the General Assembly, said he filled out more than he believed he needed to, listing a $3,100 monthly mortgage with Cecil Federal Bank.

"There's always a chance the bank could do business with the county," he said. "I put it in there just in case."

None of the 36 candidates for county executive, council member or council president reported receiving gifts from entities or individuals that do business with the county.

Democratic Councilman Dion F. Guthrie, who is seeking re-election to his seat, lists a time share in his disclosure of properties.

Marian Bollinger, a Republican candidate for the Havre de Grace council, notes that she sold a commercial property in Baltimore because of staff reductions at her company, Artech LLC.

District F candidate Mary Ann Lisanti, a Democrat, noted that her employer, Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, received $20,000 from Harford County last year. She receives a $70,000 annual salary as the organization's director, according to her form.

Valerie H. Twanmoh, a Democratic candidate for District B, listed that a portion of her $35,000 salary comes from the county through her contract as people's counsel, in which job she represents the public on zoning matters.

Some candidates listed all of their sources of income, down to the penny. Others scribbled estimates of their annual salaries.

Bel Air Commissioner James V. "Captain Jim" McMahan Jr., a Republican seeking the District C seat, listed $147,115 in wages, interest, dividends, capital gains, other gains and Social Security income.

Beef farmer Jason C. Gallion noted each cow that he sold in 2005. The Republican candidate for District D attached a page that breaks down each transaction, for a total of $25,800.

Democratic county executive candidate Ann C. Helton included a financial portfolio that is several pages thick and outlines her assets and interest in various properties.

Others were less specific. Havre de Grace Mayor John P. Correri Jr. reported receiving $7,800 to be mayor, a position he was appointed to fill when Craig became county executive. He listed $11,222 as "income."

Coates, District F candidate Melvin J. Wehrman Jr. and District A candidate Michael Neuman did not list any income. Wehrman, a Republican from Bel Air, listed a property on the first page of the form but failed to fill out the second page, which asks for sources of income. Wehrman, a Baltimore firefighter, said Friday that he makes $62,500 a year.

"I really don't remember anything asking about salary," said Wehrman, who is also a volunteer at the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company and is running on a platform of improving public safety. "Something like that, I would've filled out."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

The financial disclosure forms can be viewed at the county law department, 220 S. Main St. in Bel Air. The phone number is (410) 638-3205.

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