Kevin Forrest Schmidt, the Republican candidate for the County Council's first district seat, has filed a formal campaign finance complaint against opponent Jon Weinstein, arguing that a contributor's donations "[violate] our community's emphasis on free and equal speech and the spirit of the law."
In June, Weinstein's campaign reported receiving a total of $9,000, donated in $1,000 and $2,000 checks, from multiple LLCs, or limited liability companies, which were all located at the same address. Most of the LLCs were registered to Donald R. Reuwer Jr., a local developer, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation's database.
Though individuals and businesses are typically only allowed to contribute a maximum of $4,000 to a candidate over the course of one campaign cycle, current law considers each LLC to be an individual entity, which makes it possible for a person or business who owns more than one LLC to circumvent the donation cap.
The General Assembly voted in 2013 to ban this practice and close what some call the "LLC loophole."
Earlier this month, Reuwer said he hadn't talked to Weinstein about his stance on development. "As Howard County is practically 'built out,' I don't see this council dealing with any major land use issues," he wrote in an email.
The donations were made before the primary election, in which Weinstein faced stiff competition from three other Democrats.
Reuwer said Weinstein "impressed me as the Democratic candidate with the best chance of being elected in the general election."
Tuesday, Jared DeMarinis, director of the candidacy and campaign finance division of the Maryland State Board of Elections, said he hadn't yet had time to review Schmidt's complaint.
However, he confirmed that until the next campaign cycle begins on Jan. 1, 2015, LLCs are still "treated as separate persons under the law and have their own legal limits.
"I would say that the LLC loophole is quite known" by now, he said.
In a statement Tuesday, Weinstein responded to Schmidt's complaint: "I'm disappointed that Mr. Schmidt has opted to focus on this frivolous claim which even he said broke no rules and [is] wasting taxpayers dollars on information that was released over three months ago," he wrote. "I am confident that the voters in [District 1] will look at my 18 plus years in Howard County and see that I've demonstrated a strong commitment to our community."