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As session starts, Kittleman can continue raising funds

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman ruffled some feathers last month with his decision to continue fundraising during the General Assembly's 90-day session, which began on Wednesday.

Maryland's election law mandates a moratorium on campaign fundraising by state elected officials "or a person acting on behalf" of those officials during the session, which this year runs from Jan. 8 to April 7.

The fundraising rule applies to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is campaigning for governor with Ulman as his running mate.

But as a local official, Ulman's ability to fundraise during session was less clear-cut.

The state's Board of Elections ruled Dec. 19 that — because he is a local, and not state-level, elected official — Ulman can continue to collect money during the legislative session. Supporters of state Attorney General Doug Gansler's campaign for governor have challenged the ruling in circuit court.

But what about Allan Kittleman, who is running to replace Ulman while serving his last year as a state senator from District 9?

Despite the legal shades of gray in the Ulman ruling, state law on Kittleman's right to continue fundraising appears to be pretty straightforward.

According to a subsection in the state election law prohibiting fundraising during session, a state elected official "is not subject [to the rule] when engaged in activities solely related to the official's election to an elective federal or local office for which the official is a filed candidate."

In other words, though Kittleman is a state senator, he can continue to raise money for his county executive campaign because it's a local race.

And he filed just in time for the start of session: Board of Elections records show Kittleman turned in his paperwork on Monday, Jan. 6.

Kittleman wouldn't be the first to raise funds for another office while serving in Annapolis. Former state Sen. Rob Garagiola, who lost his 2012 bid for Maryland's sixth congressional district to newcomer John Delaney, collected contributions for his House of Representatives campaign during the 2012 legislative session.

Kittleman said he would continue to raise money during the session, but would keep his county executive campaign far from the State House.

"I will not raise any money in Annapolis, because I don't want the perception of a conflict of interest," he said.

The fundraising frenzy leading up to session and the state's first campaign finance filing deadline came to an end Jan. 8.

As a local official running for local office, District 1 County Council member Courtney Watson, Kittleman's opponent in the county executive race, can continue to collect campaign contributions, as well.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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