Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has returned $5,750 in campaign funds donated by Richard Stewart, a politically connected businessman who pleaded guilty this month to tax evasion.
Brown is the latest Maryland Democrat to distance himself from Stewart, earlier this week a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said the congressman would donate funds Stewart to a charity.
Stewart, until last week, held two powerful appointed positions in Maryland politics. He was on five member panel charged with recommending new political lines for Congressional and legislative races for the next decade. Also, since 2007, he has been a member of the Stadium Authority which oversees the M&T Bank Stadium, Camden Yards and other large state projects. Gov. Martin O'Malley said that Stewart would be removed from both panels.
Maryland's Republican Party first publicized Stewart's guilty plea last week. The businessman acknowleged that he did not pay nearly $4 million in Social Security and payroll taxes from 2003 to 2008. The GOP has also called on three dozen Democratic candidates including President Barack Obama and Gov. Martin O'Malley to return political funds donated during that period.
Brown, a Prince George's County Democrat, received two checks from Stewart's company, Montgomery Mechanical Services, Inc., according to records kept by the Maryland's Board of Elections. The first, in Dec. 2005 was for $4,000. The next, in Dec. 2007 was for $750.
Both were returned said Chief of Staff Earl Adams, along with $1,000 Stewart donated earlier this year.
Stewart's firm also gave $2,500 to the O'Malley Brown Committee Slate in 2007. It is not clear if these funds will also be returned.
A spokesman for O'Malley said the governor has not yet determined how the office will handle the donations. O'Malley recieved $7,000 from Stewart during the period inwhich he pleaded guilty for not paying taxes.