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On the Campaign Trail

December 27, 2011

Pooran cleared to run for Congress

Whenever state and federal employees consider running for office, they must abide by the federal Hatch Act, which sets limits on political activity.

Certain employees are barred from running in a partisan election.

Dr. Milad L. Pooran of Jefferson, Md., recently filed to run as a Democrat in the race for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District seat, now held by Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett.

Pooran is a critical-care physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg, W.Va. He said he is under contract.

Asked for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ position on Pooran’s eligibility to run, agency spokesman Drew Brookie provided a written statement from the department’s general counsel:

“We have looked into Dr. Pooran’s situation and reviewed his contract. He is not a Federal employee and is therefore not subject to the Hatch Act. He may therefore engage in any political activities he wishes to outside of VA, including campaign fundraising (which Federal employees may not do), but should not do so from a VA facility.”

Franchot would back a ‘little guy’ Dem

Another Democrat in the 6th District race, state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola, has been lining up support and endorsements.

During a recent interview in Washington County, state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, a Democrat, said Garagiola asked for his support, but “I’m gonna wait and see what the field looks like, and I will make a decision after that based on who’s sticking up for the little guy.”

Franchot’s comments don’t exactly point toward a Garagiola endorsement.

“Well, my interest has always been the people of Western Maryland,” Franchot said. “I have a great affection for this part of the state, particularly because there’s so much hurt going on with all of the sales-tax increases, and gas-tax increases and alcohol-tax increases. This money comes out of the little guy’s pocket.

“And there are a lot of folks that are hurt up here in Western Maryland. So, whatever candidate from my party best addresses the interest of just the ordinary person out here in Washington County, that’s the person I will end up endorsing. I have not made a decision yet.”

Garagiola voted in favor of the 2007 state sales-tax increase from 5 percent to 6 percent and voted this year in favor of doubling the sales tax on alcohol. He also has called for increasing the gas tax to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.

During the same interview, Franchot called the recent congressional redistricting that steered more Democrats into the 6th District a show of “raw political power,” something both major parties exercise when they’re in charge of redrawing legislative boundaries.

Franchot said an independent panel should oversee redistricting.

“I can see why it’s frustrating for members of the public because it’s all about politics,” he said. “It’s not about communities.”

— Andrew Schotz

“On The Campaign Trail” will run periodically. Send campaign news and tips to Andrew Schotz at andrews@herald-mail.com.

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