Gansler recused himself from state election ruling

Attorney general at odds with a decision, which his office normally handles

December 21, 2013|By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun

Normally, an assistant attorney general reviews campaign finance guidance before the Maryland State Board of Elections issues it. But what happens when that guidance could have a significant impact on the Maryland attorney general's political fortunes?

Such was the case last week when the elections panel issued a ruling that meant attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Douglas F. Gansler's political rivals could raise money during the approaching legislative session — a time when Gansler cannot.

Shortly after the ruling came out — one that Gansler's political campaign blasted — his office released a letter it sent to the Board of Elections noting that it had recused itself from offering any advice on the topic.

The board's ruling said that that laws barring state officials from accepting donations during the legislative session did not apply to candidates who are not state officials, even if those candidates are running on a ticket with a state official.

Because of the ruling, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown's gubernatorial campaign can collect money as long as it is donated to the campaign account of his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Gansler's campaign, which includes his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey, is prohibited from fundraising until the session is over.

The letter released by Gansler's office said that the Board of Elections asked the attorney general to recommend another attorney to review the ruling. On Friday, however, the elections panel did not respond to questions about whom it had brought in for the job.

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