Acknowledging that he failed to have his campaign funds go through a treasurer, former Del. Clarence Davis of Baltimore was fined $2,500 and granted three years' probation before judgment by an Anne Arundel County judge under terms of a plea agreement with the Office of the State Prosecutor.
Davis, 64, a Democrat whose 24 years in the Maryland General Assembly included tenure as chairman of the finance resources subcommitee of the House Ways and Means Committee, pleaded guilty before District Judge Robert C. Wilcox. Davis, who teaches history at Morgan State University, retired from the legislature this month.
"I don't live in your district, I don't vote for you," Wilcox said as he interrupted Davis' explanation of why he failed to comply with campaign finance law. He then chided him: "You who make the laws are obligated to obey them."
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Steven L. Trostle said that from 1996, when his treasurer, Nanci Dos, told him she wanted to step down, to 2005, Davis controlled the accounting for his campaign finance committee.
Davis said at that time he was "going from one tragedy to another." His father died of cancer, he became ill and a granddaughter died. He was also busy with the legislature and a project to confront drug dealers. Davis' former subcommittee deals with gambling issues, including slots.
"I did not get around to it," he said. "We never raised that much money. That is why it was easy to handle."
The charge, filed in September, stemmed from an investigation into State Board of Elections allegations that Davis had not filed finance reports for several years. During the yearlong probe, investigators found that Davis, not a campaign treasurer, was in charge of finances. Davis could not be charged with failing to file the reports because the candidate is not legally responsible for filing the reports, Trostle said.