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Jon Weinstein

A Maryland State Board of Elections official ruled Wednesday to dismiss a campaign finance complaint brought against Democratic County Council candidate Jon Weinstein.

Weinstein's opponent in the race for District 1 County Council, Republican Kevin Forrest Schmidt, filed a complaint with the Board of Elections in late September, alleging that donations Weinstein received from various limited liability companies owned by a local developer violated contribution limits in campaign finance law.

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But on Wednesday, Jared DeMarinis, the director of the campaign finance and candidacy division at the state Board of Elections, said in an email that he had "reviewed the complaint and found no violation of election law.

"Limited liability companies are not corporations," DeMarinis wrote. "The fact that they share common ownership or control does not make them affiliated for contribution purposes."

Current campaign finance law allows each individual LLC to donate up to the state limit of $4,000 per campaign. If one person owns multiple LLCs, they can contribute up to $4,000 from each.

DeMarinis noted that the law is slated to change Jan. 1, 2015, at which point owners of multiple LLCs will be held to the same total contribution limit of $4,000.

Weinstein, a Democrat and owner of Columbia-based consulting firm Line of Sight, received a total of $9,000 in campaign contributions before the primary election in June from six LLCs sharing an address on Dorsey Hall Drive in Ellicott City. Four of the LLCs were registered to local developer Don Reuwer, who as a principal at Howard County-based Land Development & Design has worked on residential communities in Ellicott City, including Mt. Hebron Overlook, Taylor Village and the Mason Property, as well as a transit-oriented development near the Rosa Bonheur pet and human cemetery in Elkridge. 

In his complaint, Schmidt argued that the contributions “[violated] our community’s emphasis on free and equal speech and the spirit of the law.”

On Wednesday, he released a statement about the decision, writing: "Each day I listen to voters complain about unresponsive government and corrupt politicians who trade public decisions for private favors. My opponent and his well-heeled friends have broken the spirit of campaign laws designed to curb public corruption. Even the Board of Elections adjudicator stressed that what Mr. Weinstein did will be illegal in January. We need to have confidence that our leaders will govern honestly and not on behalf of the narrow interests of a few politically well-connected developers."

Also Wednesday, Weinstein said he had "fully expected this frivolous matter to be dismissed.

"I... have continued to focus on what’s important - talking with voters and learning about their ideas and concerns," he said. 
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