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Board seeks probe of Mooney campaign funds

August 17, 2002

From staff and wire reports

The State Board of Elections alerted state prosecutors to what appears to be an illegal contribution to state Sen. Alex Mooney's campaign.

Campaign reports show Mooney received a $10,000 transfer from "Education Maryland," a group Mooney created two years ago. The contribution limit for state candidates is $4,000 from a single contributor in a four-year election cycle.

Ross Goldstein, the director of campaign finance for the elections board, said he referred the matter to state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli.

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The Frederick County Republican senator created Education Maryland to help overturn legislation some believe could inflate the school construction costs.

Mooney campaign manager Erin DeLullo said the money was a repayment of a loan the campaign made to the organization. She said she believed the payment was improperly marked in the senator's campaign report.

The Mooney campaign report does not show a $10,000 loan to Education Maryland.

Mooney said the $10,000 should have been marked to a loan repayment account, not a campaign account.

"We're having a filing error here," Mooney said.

Mooney said he wasn't sure whether the error was made by a person, the software or a combination.

Mooney said he is changing the electronic filing software he uses because he's been having problems with it. He had been using that software vendor because it was cheaper than the one used by most lawmakers, he said.

Mooney said he explained the situation to Montanarelli and was confident the error would be cleared up.

Montanarelli said he would "take a look into" the matter. "We'll sit down with him. I'm sure we can work something out," he said.

Assistant state prosecutor Mike McDonough said the maximum penalty for an over-contribution could be a $25,000 fine and a year in prison.

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