Franchot repays $54,000 in contributions

Campaign donations were ruled illegal

January 23, 2008|By Timothy B. Wheeler

State Comptroller Peter Franchot has returned $54,000 in contributions he received from a Hollywood film producer who broke Maryland's campaign finance law during the 2006 election, according to the comptroller's campaign manager.

Producer James G. Robinson was fined $119,000 in October by the Maryland state prosecutor for giving larger donations than the law allowed to Franchot, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.

Under Maryland law, an individual or corporation may give no more than $4,000 to a candidate and no more than $10,000 overall during any four-year election cycle.

O'Malley and Brown returned donations totaling $96,000 from Robinson months ago, shortly after learning that the contributions had violated state law. But Franchot did not, according to Tim Daly, his campaign manager, because his campaign was in debt at the time.

Franchot's campaign owed roughly $500,000 at the beginning of last year, Daly said. Fundraisers in Silver Spring and Baltimore in November and December helped the comptroller raise enough to get out of debt and pay back the donation. After returning Robinson's money, the campaign has roughly $240,000 in cash, with about $40,000 in debts remaining to be paid off, Daly said.

Robinson is a Baltimore native who is chairman and CEO of Morgan Creek Productions and various other film companies. Films he has had a hand in include The Good Shepherd, Man of the Year and The Last of the Mohicans. His donations to the Maryland candidates came from 20 different corporations in which he was the sole stockholder, according to the state prosecutor.

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