On Aug. 30, Whalen withdrew $8,500 from Whalen Properties' bank account, prosecutors said. He approached Michele Mandel, Diane Underwood and Darryl R. Hitt, saying it would help him if he could give them cash in exchange for their checks to Quirk's campaign. Whalen personally delivered the checks to Quirk on Aug. 31, prosecutors said.

In September, Quirk sponsored the resolution for the PUD, and the council passed it the next month, prosecutors said.

Whalen told the judge that the people he gave the money to were "politically unsophisticated."

"Unfortunately, I used them," he said.

After the hearing, Whalen said he did not want contributions to Quirk traced back to him because development plans often spark controversy among residents, and he feared that opponents of his projects would use the political contributions against him.

"Part of the issue has just been that these things can be very testy," Whalen said. "At the end of the day, [campaign contributions to Quirk] would have been used to hurt me, hurt the project, hurt the councilman."

Whalen said Quirk had supported the Southwest Physicians Pavilion for nearly a year before the developer made the contributions. "There certainly was no quid pro quo," he said.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt called transparency "the cardinal principle of our campaign finance laws.

"That transparency is the public's only protection from the corrupting influence of the enormous sums of money spent on elections," he said in a statement.

Quirk said Thursday in a statement that his campaign was misled about the identities of the donors. "We reported our concerns to the State Election Board as soon as we became aware of it, cooperated fully with the State Prosecutor in its investigation of Mr. Whalen, and returned the contributions in full," Quirk said.

Marks also recently returned the donation from Whalen; Kamenetz's campaign has said it plans to keep it.

Whalen has given to politicians in both parties, and the state GOP called on them to return the money.

"Those who have received contributions from Stephen Whalen should follow the lead of Baltimore County Councilman David Marks and return his dirty contributions," Maryland Republican Party Executive Director David Ferguson said in a statement, noting that most of the donations went to Democrats.

Whalen said after the hearing that he would likely take "a hiatus for a while" from contributing money to politicians.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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