Report: Ex-PenMar members gave to Shank

February 14, 2004|by TARA REILLY

Two of four former PenMar Development Corp. board members described by Del. Christopher B. Shank as "pillars of the community" made financial contributions to Shank's election campaign, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Two others, former PenMar board member Terry Randall and current member John Hershey, also contributed to Shank's election bankroll.

Shank, R-Washington, is chairman of the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

In November, Shank called Paula Lampton, Wayne Alter, Thomas Newcomer and Brett Wilson "pillars of the community" shortly after they resigned from the PenMar board.

Lampton, former PenMar chairwoman, and her husband, Edward, contributed $400 to Shank's campaigns between 1999 and 2003 and Alter contributed $550 from 2000 to 2003, according to state election records.


Randall contributed $450 from 2001 to 2003 and Hershey contributed $200 in 2003.

Seven of PenMar's 15 board members resigned last fall, some citing infighting among board members and differences in redevelopment ideas as the reasons.

Shank charged that the PenMar board was functioning well under the former members and that problems came about after the Washington County Commissioners appointed some of the board's current members.

He called for more state and local oversight of the PenMar board, which he said became "dysfunctional" under the new board members.

Last week, the local delegation said it would introduce legislation that would dissolve the current PenMar board.

It also would reduce the number of board members from 15 to nine - four being appointed by state lawmakers and five by the commissioners.

Some PenMar officials and Cascade-area residents have questioned whether the proposed legislation was payback as a result of the former members' resignations.

Shank said his relationship with some of the former board members carried no weight in the proposed legislation.

"This whole issue is about policy, not politics - the policy, not the personnel," Shank said.

"None of them have attempted to weigh my actions in terms of making contributions," Shank said.

Shank said this week the proposed changes would make the board accountable to Washington County government and its taxpayers.

County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell has called the proposed legislation a political move by one member of the delegation and said it was intended to get back at the current board members.

Wivell is a voting member of the PenMar board.

"To me, somebody's pushing behind the scenes," PenMar Executive Director Richard Rook said in a recent phone interview.

Alter declined to comment on the contributions to Shank's campaigns, but said he supports the delegation's proposed legislation.

"I think they've demonstrated tremendous leadership," Alter said.

Alter said he has no interest in serving again on the PenMar board.

Lampton and Randall did not return phone calls. Hershey could not be reached for comment.

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