The Maryland Republican Party and the state elections board reached an agreement Friday that requires the strapped GOP to repay at least $2,000 a month to Michael S. Steele's campaign account, which state officials contend made an improper contribution.
The parties had planned to finalize an agreement last week, but Jared DeMarinis, director of campaign finance at the State Board of Elections, said 11th-hour revisions proposed by the party were "unacceptable." Lawyers for both sides spent the past week in negotiations.
At issue was a $75,000 contribution Steele's campaign account made to the Republican State Central Committee to cover the party's legal fees from a redistricting fight several years ago. Steele, the former lieutenant governor who now chairs the Republican National Committee, was state GOP chairman at the time.
The new agreement retains provisions that allow the state party to keep $15,000 of the money it raises each month to help cover expenses and that require it to pay 15 percent of funds raised above that amount to the Steele account.
But certain direct costs would be excluded when calculating the repayment, including expenses related to direct-mail campaigns and to putting on the annual Red, White and Blue fundraising dinner, one of the biggest Republican events of the year. And the $2,000 minimum monthly repayment was written into the agreement, though the party can request a delay.
"We're allowing them to function as a political party so they can pay off this debt," DeMarinis said.
GOP attorney Robert B. Ostrom said the party, which is undergoing a transition after Chairman James Pelura resigned this week, decided not to challenge the matter in court.