Floreen Campaign Preemptively Returns Campaign Contributions
Campaign chair says $18,000 was returned following complaint to State Board of Elections
Montgomery County executive candidate Nancy Floreen has returned $18,000 in campaign contributions in response to a complaint that was filed last month with the Maryland State Board of Elections.
In an Oct. 1 letter, attorney Timothy Maloney, who represents the Floreen campaign, wrote to Maryland State Board of Elections Director Jared DeMarinis that the campaign had determined Park Potomac Entities, which donated a total of $24,000 to the campaign, had “complex ownership structures” that may mean the total amount of the contribution could be in violation of state law. Contributions coming from multiple entities with common ownership of 80 percent or more are considered to be from a single donor in Maryland, and such donations are limited to $6,000.
Floreen, who is running as an independent, is challenging Democrat Marc Elrich and Republican Robin Ficker for the post of county executive.
[For more information about the candidates, check out Bethesda Beat’s 2018 General Election Voters’ Guide]
Gaithersburg resident Kenneth Meyers filed a complaint with the state board Sept. 15 alleging that Floreen had violated the law, noting four examples where multiple contributions exceeding the $6,000 limit came from identical addresses between July 11 and Aug. 2. The contributions totaled $57,000. Of that, $24,000 came from five different entities listed under the address of 12435 Park Potomac Ave., Suite 200, Potomac, which is the address shared by the development firm Foulger-Pratt.
The other three companies outlined in the complaint, Lee Development Group, Donohoe Cos. and Guardian Realty, were determined not to have more of an 80 percent shared ownership structure, according to the letter.
Rich Parsons, Floreen’s campaign manager, said in an interview Monday that the campaign flagged four of the five contributions from the common address after speaking with the owners of the companies and determining that the ownership structure was too complex to determine whether the contributions were or were not illegal. The campaign is still waiting for final instructions from the state board, he said.
Parsons said people should not assume that a shared address among donors means that there is a shared ownership structure.
“The same address doesn’t mean anything. A lot of companies are completely separate entities, so that’s not actually the test. Obviously in hindsight, that’s something we’ll look at,” he said.
Parsons said because the ownership structure of companies is not public record, the “onus is on the donor” to report that information to the campaign.
This story will be updated
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org