- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Democratic super PAC has become a campaign issue in the Maryland governor’s race.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan on Wednesday accused rival Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown of breaking state campaign finance rules by coordinating activity with an outside super PAC.

Backing up the claim, the Hogan campaign released a list of seven companies and labor unions that have contributed to both the Brown campaign and One State, One Future PAC, an independent group that has backed Mr. Brown’s run.

The Brown campaign and One State, One Future PAC also share financial staff, according to disclosures cited by the Hogan campaign.

Both have the same financial consultants: Colleen Martin-Lauer, who has raised money for several prominent Maryland Democrats; and Susan Smith-Bauk, who works for Mr. Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Kenneth S. Ulman, as well as the Brown campaign.

State regulations expressly prohibit political campaigns from coordinating their fundraising activities and strategy with outside super PACs.

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Mr. Hogan, a businessman waging a long-shot run in deep blue Maryland, called on the state attorney general and state prosecutor to open an investigation.

“There couldn’t be a more blatant example of illegal coordination,” said Hogan campaign manager Steve Crim. “With immediate and full knowledge of all donor activities, it is simply impossible for Martin-Lauer and Smith-Bauk to not coordinate the fundraising efforts of their three clients.”

“The list of contributions provides even further evidence of fundraising coordination, and we need a full investigation into whether criminal activity has occurred,” he said “After eight years of a culture of corruption in Maryland … Marylanders have the right to know if Lt. Governor Brown and his running mate broke the law by coordinating with an independent super PAC. The attorney general and state prosecutor should take immediate action to stop the participation of the super PAC in this election.”

The charges come after Mr. Hogan’s campaign filed a similar complaint earlier this month with the state Board of Elections. Democrats then filed a complaint against Mr. Hogan, who accepted $2.4 million in public financing for his gubernatorial bid, saying he is underreporting the cost of a personal recreational vehicle that he uses as a traveling campaign office.

Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said the latest charges only showed that “Larry Hogan’s campaign is getting desperate.”

“They either don’t understand the law or think they can deceive Maryland voters. Hogan just doesn’t want to talk about his efforts to ban abortion and the fact he is against common sense gun control to keep our streets safe,” he said, echoing Mr. Brown’s latest TV attacks on his GOP rival.

Meanwhile, the request for an investigation puts Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler in a difficult position.

Mr. Gansler made similar charges about collusion between the Brown campaign and the same super PAC when he was running against Mr. Brown in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. After losing the nomination, Mr. Gansler threw his support behind his fellow Democrat in the general election.

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