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GOP defends dumping on Delaney over landfill

September 05, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • John Delaney, Democratic candidate for Maryland's 6th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, speaks to Washington County School Board member Donna Brightman during the Jefferson-Jackson dinner at the American Legion Clopper-Michael Post 10 on May 17.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

A recent Republican campaign piece in a congressional race focuses on a connection between Democrat John Delaney and a formerly illegal landfill.

National Waste Services operated the Battle Creek Landfill in Page County, Va., until 2004, when the landfill was shut down after taking in more trash than the state allowed.

Republicans are linking Delaney — who is challenging Republican incumbent Roscoe G. Bartlett in the 6th District — and National Waste Services.

The front of a Maryland Republican Party mailing says: “John Delaney financed a landfill that regulators shut down for damaging the environment. Imagine what he’d do in Congress.”

Inside, the mailing alleges four times that it was “Delaney’s landfill.”

CapitalSource, a business Delaney founded, loaned money to National Waste Services, said Justin Schall, Delaney’s campaign manager, but the companies had no other connection.

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Schall said National Waste Services was one of more than 5,000 companies to which CapitalSource loaned money.

“It would be like holding Ford Motor Co. responsible because someone they leased a car to got a DUI,” Schall said.

The Maryland Republican Party, though, insists the connection is deeper and that calling the landfill “Delaney’s” is accurate.

David A. Ferguson, the Republican party’s executive director, said CapitalSource owned more than 129,000 shares of stock in National Waste Services. He pointed to CapitalSource’s annual U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing for 2003 as proof.

That filing shows CapitalSource had “warrants to purchase 129,430 classes A, B, C, D and E of preferred and common stock.”

A warrant, like an option, generally is considered an opportunity to purchase a security and is not an indication the security was purchased.

Schall said the warrants were National Waste Service’s collateral when it defaulted on its CapitalSource loan; CapitalSource never exercised its right and never purchased the stock.

Still, Ferguson maintained that the annual report shows CapitalSource owned shares of National Waste Services. He challenged Delaney’s campaign to prove that it did not purchase the stock.

The SEC was not able to definitely explain the reference to warrants in CapitalSource’s 2003 annual report Wednesday.

The campaign mailing, which circulated last week, cites two newspaper stories from 2003 and 2004 as sources for information about the landfill, but gives no specifics, other than a bulleted list: “Illegally dumping thousands of tons of trash”; “Allowing polluted storm water to flow from the dump”; “Failing to properly dispose of or cover trash”; “Running a landfill that attracted rats.”

“John Delaney couldn’t follow our environmental laws,” the piece says. “Now he wants to go to Congress and write our laws?”

By email, Bill Hayden of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality provided further information about the landfill.

He wrote that DEQ determined in 2003 “that the landfill was receiving more waste than its permit allowed.”

Page County owned the landfill and National Waste Services was running it.

The landfill was allowed to take in 250 tons per day. But from 2001 to 2003, the daily tonnage increased from 375 tons to about 1,500 tons, according to Hayden.

DEQ noticed several “operational deficiencies,” such as inadequate covering, nonoperational equipment, clogged storm water piping, leachate seeps, and improper management of paint, Hayden’s email says.

Hayden wrote that DEQ revoked the landfill permit in 2004.

A May 2004 Richmond Times-Dispatch story says: “The closure sent National Waste into bankruptcy and spurred the company to appeal the state decision.”

As National Waste Services’ main creditor, CapitalSource Finance LLC helped work out a plan to seek other companies to run the landfill, the story says.

Page County’s administrator, Mark Belton, said in a phone interview that the county took over the operations of the Battle Creek Landfill when it reopened in September 2005.

The Maryland Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters have issued statements supporting Delaney and criticizing Bartlett over the Republican mailing.

Delaney’s campaign blasted the mailing as a “blatantly false attack” and called on Bartlett to denounce it.

But Ted Dacey, Bartlett’s campaign manager, said last week that questions about the mailing should be directed to the Maryland Republican Party. Dacey would not comment on whether Bartlett condoned the mailing or knew about it.

Now, Bartlett is part of a TV ad attacking Delaney on the same issue. The ad says: “Delaney’s company also backed a landfill that was shut down for illegally accepting thousands of tons of trash. It even let polluted water runoff flow from the dump.”

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