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Elections official says Donoghue's bookkeeping seems correct

December 06, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A state election official said Tuesday that the law supports how a delegate's campaign fund recorded proceeds from a September fundraiser.

The fundraising breakfast in Annapolis was for Maryland Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

Although the invitation set reservation levels at $1,000, $500 and $250, Donoghue has maintained that people didn't have to buy tickets or make contributions. Therefore, he can't say how many people were there or how much his campaign took in that day.

Republicans, including Paul Muldowney, Donoghue's opponent, blasted the fundraiser during a press conference Sept. 26, the day of the breakfast.

Jared DeMarinis, the Maryland Board of Elections' director of candidacy and campaign finance, said Tuesday that the invitation doesn't explicitly require people to buy tickets.

Regardless, the intent of the state's election law is to let the public know how much money flows in and out of campaign accounts, DeMarinis said.

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The only state requirement for ticket sales is when to give receipts to donors, he said.

Donoghue defeated Muldowney in the Nov. 7 general election to earn a fifth four-year term.

Even afterward, Muldowney questioned whether Donoghue violated campaign finance requirements by not listing ticket sales.

However, Donoghue said his campaign acted properly. Some people sent checks without attending, according to Anthony Dattilio, the treasurer for Friends of John Donoghue.

The invitation gives two donation options.

The first line says: "Yes, I will attend the reception on September 26, 2006. Please reserve:"

The next line has room for people to check one of three spaces: "Patron(s) at $1,000," "Host(s) at $500" or "Guest(s) at $250."

The following line says: "I cannot attend the reception, but I would like to support Friends of John Donoghue. Enclosed is my contribution of $___"

Most political action committees on Donoghue's campaign finance report due Oct. 27 gave $250, $500 or $1,000, but most individuals gave other amounts on many different days.

Donoghue said the Maryland House Democratic Committee Slate paid for the breakfast.

The slate's financial statement for Oct. 27 lists payments of $811.84 and $1,639.68 to Historic Inns of Annapolis, which refers to the Calvert House, where the breakfast was.

A financial statement for Nov. 28 lists $7,500 paid to Martin-Lauer Associates LLC of Baltimore for fundraising consulting fees. Martin-Lauer Associates was on the invitation as a contact for reservations.

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