- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Post-election campaign finance disclosures show that developers active in Prince George’s County were the primary funders of a failed county ballot initiative that sought to extend term limits for local politicians.

A finance report filed last week — nearly two weeks after deadline — disclosed further financial support of the term-limits ballot initiative by deep-pocketed developers. Walton International Group, the Canadian company now developing the 479-acre Westphalia Town Center, contributed $20,000 to the effort, according to the report.

Previous reports showed similar support from developers working in the county — two companies owned by developer Kenneth H. Michael donated $50,000 to the campaign and seven companies associated with developer Edward St. John donated a total of $25,000.

Campaign finance filings detailing contributions made in the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election show the Prince Georgian’s for Fairness in Government ballot initiative raised a total of $124,550. The latest report, detailing finances from Oct. 20 through Nov. 11 lists the campaign as collecting $44,500. It also spent nearly $60,000 during the same period, much of it on radio ads.

The ballot initiative would have extended the number of four-year terms the county executive and county council members could serve consecutively from two to three terms. The measure was narrowly defeated, with 51.4 percent of Prince George’s County voters rejecting it.

This is the third time residents have voted in favor of term limits, which were initially adopted in the county via ballot initiative in 1992.

Other contributors who gave money during the latest filing period include Jon and Milton Peterson, who own the Peterson Cos. and developed National Harbor. Both Petersons personally donated $5,000 to the campaign.

Milestone Tower Limited Partnership, a company owned by Leonard Forkas, who is working on plans to install cellphone towers on county school buildings, donated $5,000.

Mr. Forkas said his support of the ballot initiative was solely based on his support for Mr. Baker.

“We like Rushern Baker. I think he’s been doing a phenomenal job for Prince George’s County,” he said, noting that the review process for cell tower site selection does not involve either the county executive or the county council.

EBA Engineering Inc., which county documents list as currently holding a contract with the county to provide engineering services, donated $2,500. Other reported donations from the late filing include $4,000 from the Apartment and Office Building Association Maryland State PAC; $1,000 from 2 Research Place LLC; $1,000 from Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal PAC; and $1,000 from Gingles LLC.

The donations are legal under Maryland law, which does not limit how much a person or business can donate to a political committee.

The report indicates that the Prince Georgians for Fairness in Government committee had approximately $24,500 in the bank as of Nov. 11. It is unclear whether any bills were outstanding or what would become of the rest of the campaign cash. Committee Chairman Calvin Brown did not return calls seeking comment.

Maryland law does not allow money leftover from a ballot initiative committee to be dispersed to political action committees or charities, as can be done with individual’s campaign committees. Instead, any leftover money must be dispersed back to donors at a pro rated share, said Jared DeMarinis of the State Board of Elections.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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