Lawyer in election lawsuit is veteran of political game

Gansler supporter led attorneys' PAC, gave money on his own

December 28, 2013|By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun

The lawyer who filed suit last week to prevent Democrat Anthony G. Brown's running mate from accepting campaign donations during the legislative session is no stranger to the world of political fundraising.

Daniel M. Clements, an attorney with a Baltimore firm, has given tens of thousands of dollars to candidates in recent years and for 12 years chaired the political action committee of the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association — one of the state's largest political donors. In that role, he oversaw the raising and spending of more than $1 million for Maryland political candidates.

A former assistant U.S. attorney, Clements has taken an active role in Democratic politics, serving as a delegate for Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Almost all of his donations have been to Democrats, though he has occasionally given to moderate Republicans, such as former Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland.

Computerized state records show that Clements has made 43 state-level donations totaling almost $10,000 since 2005 — most of them $40 to $80 contributions to the Association for Justice PAC, as the trial lawyers' political fund is known. Federal Election Commission records show he has given more than $85,000 to federal campaign committees since 1998, including $10,000 to Obama in each of his two presidential campaigns.

Last year, Clements donated $2,000 to the campaign fund of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, whom he is supporting for governor over Lieutenant Governor Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Clements filed the lawsuit against the state elections board, Brown and Ulman on behalf of two other Gansler supporters, seeking an injunction that would bar Ulman from raising money during the 90-day General Assembly session.

Brown and Gansler are clearly covered by a state law that prevents state officials and legislators from raising money while the Assembly meets from January to April. So is Gansler's running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey of Prince George's County.

County officials such as Ulman generally are not affected by the ban, but Clements' lawsuit contends that Ulman would be acting as an "agent" for Brown.

In the past, Ulman has been a beneficiary of Clements' giving. The lawyer, a former Howard County resident, gave $250 to Ulman during his 2006 race for county executive. Clements gave $1,000 to Gansler in 2009 when he was running for re-election as attorney general.

Clements, 66, has not always been in Gansler's camp, In 2006, when Gansler was first elected attorney general, Clements gave $2,000 to his Democratic primary opponent, Stuart O. Simms.

Clements declined to comment on his political activity while the lawsuit is pending.

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