Nevins fined for election donations

University regent, Sen. Giannetti among those named for campaign transgressions

September 09, 2006|By John Fritze | John Fritze,sun reporter

David H. Nevins, a senior vice president of Constellation Energy and a member of the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents, received a civil citation and was fined $2,000 for exceeding a campaign contribution limit set by state law, the state prosecutor said yesterday.

Nevins, who was criticized this year for attending meetings between Constellation Energy and politicians despite an ethics rule that prohibits Maryland's regents from lobbying, exceeded by $2,000 the $10,000 aggregate limit that an individual may contribute to all candidates in a four-year election cycle, the prosecutor's office said.

Nevins, who could not be reached for comment, was one of several citizens and politicians who received citations or criminal charges for campaign finance violations. State Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr., a College Park Democrat, was fined $5,000 because he distributed campaign material without including the required identification and address of his campaign treasurer, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, Del. Clarence Davis, a Baltimore Democrat who is retiring when his term ends in January, faces criminal charges for failing to use a treasurer to manage his campaign finance fund. The violation is a misdemeanor, and Davis could receive a fine of up to $25,000 or up to a year in jail, the prosecutor's office said.

Saying that Nevins' citation was a personal matter that did not involve the company, Constellation spokesman Robert L. Gould declined to comment.

An ethics review this year by the university system cleared Nevins of any wrongdoing and he has maintained that he only made introductions and did not speak during meetings between Constellation officials and House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Maryland State Board of Elections reports show Nevins gave to a wide range of candidates, including $2,000 to Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and $1,000 each to Miller and Busch, both Democrats. An individual may contribute up to $4,000 to any one candidate and $10,000 in total.

In Giannetti's case, prosecutors say the senator did not include what is known as the "treasurer's authority line" on his campaign Internet site and on fundraising e-mails. By state law, campaign material must include the name and address of the campaign's treasurer. Prosecutors said Giannetti had been warned of the same problem during his last election in 2002.

Reached yesterday, Giannetti said he believes his campaign material included the required language and, without mentioning names, blamed his leading primary opponent, James C. Rosapepe, for trying to smear his campaign.

"It looks like a parking ticket," Giannetti said of the citation he received from the prosecutor's office, which he said he paid. "The timing was impeccable to make sure that this consumed all of the issues in the race at the right time," days before the Sept. 12 primary.

Davis, meanwhile, acknowledged he has not used a treasurer for his campaign and said the prosecutor's allegations were "basically true." He said mitigating factors, such as a 2004 fire in his home that he said destroyed documents, were to blame for his inability to file his campaign finance reports on time and properly.

"I don't think the state prosecutor's out to get me. He's just doing his job," Davis said. "When you're working purely from the grass roots, those are the kinds of difficulties you'll run into. ... There's nothing to hide."

State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh's office, which is charged with overseeing public corruption cases, also fined Timonium-based Gray and Sons Inc. $1,045 for exceeding the $10,000 aggregate campaign finance limit. Rohrbaugh said the office has fined 20 people and companies during the past two years for similar campaign finance violations.

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