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Poole's outside donations criticized

August 23, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Maryland Delegate D. Bruce Poole's campaign war chest is a source of security, but it has also become a source of criticism.

According to campaign finance reports filed last week, Poole, D-Washington, has raised more than two-thirds of his money from people, organizations or political action committees outside Washington County.

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"I definitely believe it's an issue," said Republican Christopher B. Shank, who is seeking his party's nomination to challenge Poole for his District 2B seat in the November election.

Shank said most of the money he has raised - about $5,773 - has come from local residents and businesses.

Poole, a three-term Democrat, reported raising $9,850 from political action committees representing interests from tobacco to lawyers to banks. Nearly all of the PACs are based outside Washington County.

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More than half of his $22,920 in donations and fund-raisers have come from people and businesses outside the county, according to the reports.

Most troubling, Shank said, is the money Poole has raised from Annapolis lobbyists and special interests.

"You just follow the money," he said. "Bruce's legislative record, in many ways, is reflective of where that money is coming from."

For example, Shank said money from banking interests may have led Poole to sponsor legislation this year that would have allowed banks to jump in front of county and municipal governments to collect liens from property owners who default on loans.

That's money that local governments could not use for schools, roads and other needs, Shank said.

"If I'm elected, I owe no one," he said.

Poole defended his record and the bill in particular. He said the legislation, which Gov. Parris N. Glendening vetoed, was fair.

Currently, governments have priority liens even if property owners default on their mortgages before their tax bills.

The legislation would have made tax collectors stand in line behind creditors who were owed money first and would have helped second-mortgage holders as well as banks, Poole said.

Poole said he has raised money from outside, as well as from inside Washington County, but said it's not an issue.

"I think the burden on Chris is to show that it's affected my voting record," he said.

Poole also criticized Shank for hypocrisy. He pointed out that Shank served as campaign treasurer four years ago for Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who also has raised money from PACs and people outside the county.

Poole said Shank tried to solicit money from Annapolis as well.

"Chris can't have it two ways," he said. "He has been trying to raise money from the business community by attacking my record on business, and when that didn't work, he appears to be trying to criticize me" for taking money from banking interests.

With $17,590 cash on hand, Poole has more than three times as much money as Shank has raised.

But he said he is far from done in the fund-raising department. After barely sidestepping a major upset in 1994 from Republican Rick Wiles, Poole said he is determined to be well-prepared this time.

"I decided I was never going to be in a position where things were said about my record that weren't true and I couldn't respond," he said.

David M. Russo, another Republican running in District 2B said Poole's prolific fund-raising may be a sign of his vulnerability.

"It sounds to me he's a little worried this year," he said.

Russo's only campaign funds have come from a $3,025 loan he made to his campaign. He said he may spend up to $10,000 of his own money in attempt to win the GOP nomination.

Seth E. Wilson, the third Republican in the race, has signed an affidavit promising he will not spend more than $1,000 and therefore did not have to file a financial report. He said he will re-evaluate that decision if he wins the primary.

"The important part that I'm focused on is getting my message out during the primary," he said. "I don't think it's going to take that much money to reach the Republican voters in the primary."

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