Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has hosted politically influential guests in the state's skybox at the Washington Redskins' stadium — many of whom are also campaign contributors.
In total, guests — and those associated with them, including corporate affiliates and relatives — have contributed about $20,000 to his campaign to become governor, according to the latest filings in that race.
Brown, who is running for governor, recently surged into the lead in fundraising in the Democratic campaign as he built up his treasury to slightly more than $7 million. The lieutenant governor combined with his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, to raise $5.4 million over the past year.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has allowed Brown's office to control the state's box at FedEx Field.
A stadium guest, Bruce Plaxen, chairman of the state trial lawyers' political action committee, received three tickets to watch Washington defeat the Ravens during the 2012 season. Plaxen, his company and relatives gave $4,500 to the Brown campaign in its latest filing.
Brown's guests during the 2012 and 2013 football seasons also included lobbyist Major F. Riddick Jr., who represents Gantech Inc., a state contractor whose executives and lobbyists gave about $4,000 to Brown.
Some of the contributors are Brown staffers. For instance, Maia Hunt Estes, Brown's chief of staff, is among the donors who received tickets to the Redskins box. She gave the campaign $1,000.
Government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland — which has been critical of how the state's top politicians use stadium boxes — has called for more tickets to go to community volunteers, advocates for children and others without much political influence.
The state also has boxes at the Ravens' and Orioles' stadiums. Brown said Friday in a statement that if elected governor he planned to make the tickets to the boxes more widely available.
"Under a Brown-Ulman administration, we will make the state's tickets to sporting and other events available to a wide audience by establishing a more formal process to distribute these tickets to community-based nonprofits and state government employees who demonstrate outstanding service," Brown said in the statement. "These events bring our communities together and it's important for us to include as many of our fellow Marylanders as possible."
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