Attorney General Douglas F, Gansler's campaign released an open letter to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman Tuesday urging them to observe a ban on fund-raising during the 90-day legislative session that starts Wednesday -- even though the state's election chief has ruled Ulman can accept donations.
Gansler and his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey of Prince George's County, wrote that Brown and Ulman should respect the "spirit" of that law and halt all fund-raising during the session.
Brown is clearly covered under the ban, which affects state officials, as are Gansler and Ivey. But Ulman, as a county official, is considered exempt under a ruling by state elections chief Linda Lamone providing that he raises money for his own political committee and keeps his financing operation separate from Brown's.
Ulman has said he intends to raise funds while the legislature meets.
The elections board ruling is the subject of a legal challenge by Gansler supporters who say they are operating separately from the campaign. The case has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
In their letter, Gansler and Ivey contend the Brown and Ulman political committees cannot be considered separate because candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run together.
"Lobbyists know that if they want to use their money to help shape Mr. Brown's legislative agenda and sway votes on key bills, they can five it to Mr. Ulman for safekeeping," the letter says.
Justin Schall, Brown's campaign manager, said he would not comment on "old news." Previously Schall said the Brown campaign would abide by the rules and keep a firewall between the Brown and Ulman fund-raising efforts during the session.
Meanwhile, candidates who are affected by the ban, including Brown, were beating the email bushes on the final day to urge supporter to send money before the General Assembly convenes at noon Wednesday.
Gov. Martin O'Malley urged his supporters to donate to Brown before 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night so that his political partner can include their donations in his next fund-raising report, due next week. Brown's other Democratic rival, Del. Heather R. Mizeur, urged backers to get money in by the same deadline so that she can show her fund-raising muscle.
Mizeur is not affected by the session ban, as long as her donations are $250 or less, because she has agreed to accept public financing.