The Jim Smith Effect
County executive open his wallet to help council members get elected.
County Executive Jim Smith used his sizable campaign war chest to help the campaigns of three Democratic County Council candidates.
Smith gave $129,000 to Cathy Bevins, Ben Sutley and Tom Quirk in the final weeks of the 2010 campaign, according to a report filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Bevins and Quirk won their bids to represent the 6th and 1st Districts, respectively. Sutley lost to Republican Todd Huff in the 3rd District.
Contributions made by Jim Smith through the Baltimore County Victory Slate
|Cathy Bevins||Ben Sutley||Tom Quirk|
State law typically prohibits candidates from donating more than $6,000 to any other candidate in a four-year cycle. But they can make $6,000 donations to as many candidates as they like.
That $6,000 restriction can be avoided if the candidates create a slate account. The law governing those accounts allows candidates to transfer unlimited amounts of money to the slate from their individual campaign accounts. Conversely, the slate is allowed to transfer out unlimited amounts of money to the individual accounts of its members.
Smith transfered $300,000 of the nearly $1 million in his campaign account to the Baltimore County Victory Slate in September and October.
Bevins and Gordon Harden, who unsuccessfully ran for the 5th District Council seat, received $35,300 of that money in September.
Donations to council candidates from the Baltimore County Victory Slate
|Cathy Bevins||Gordon Harden|
The slate donations to the candidates do not include the in-kind contributions Smith made to the candidates in the form of salary for Ann Beegle, a political consultant who once was Smith's chief of staff.
The donations also do not include the tens of thousands of dollars Michael Paul Smith and David Gildea raised for Bevins, Harden and Quirk in a series of private $1,000-per-person fundraisers.
In 2006, Jim Smith used the slate to transfer more than $430,000 to Democrat Scott Shellenberger's successful state's attorney campaign.
Michael Paul Smith is the county executive's son. David Gildea is a land use attorney who once clerked for Jim Smith when the county executive was a Circuit Court judge.
Michael Paul Smith announced last month that he was joining Gidlea's law firm and that the firm would be renamed Smith, Gildea and Schmidt. The younger Smith also said he plans to return to some land use law, something he voluntarily gave up practicing in the county while his father was county executive.
One of the council's primary responsibilities is oversight of land use and the quadrennial comprehensive rezoning process.