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Anthony Brown declines to confirm loan repayment

Anthony Brown
Anthony Brown (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Former Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the Democratic nominee in Maryland's 4th Congressional District, declined to say Friday whether he met a key deadline this month to pay back $120,000 on a loan his campaign took out weeks before he lost the 2014 election for governor.

Brown lost to Republican businessman Larry Hogan, defaulted on the loan and agreed to restructure the debt. The $120,000 due on June 1 was the largest installment the campaign owed the Laborers Political League Education Fund under that new payment plan.

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Brown borrowed $500,000 for the gubernatorial campaign. Separately, he loaned his congressional campaign $400,000 in personal funds in March.

The debt should be easier to pay now that Brown has won the nomination in the Prince George's County-based 4th District, which reliably elects Democrats in the general election.

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He cannot transfer money from his congressional campaign to his state account, but his return to power will make it far easier for him to raise cash for both.

But watchdog groups remain concerned about the lack of transparency around the debt. Brown will not have to disclose to state regulators whether he has made payments — or, if he has, who is helping him pay back the state loan — until the end of August.

Brown responded to a direct question about whether he had met the June 1 deadline by issuing a statement.

"As I have consistently stated since November 2014, I remain committed to fulfilling my obligations from the gubernatorial campaign and am making significant progress toward doing so," he said in the statement.

A spokeswoman for the Laborers Political League Education Fund, which is associated with the Laborers' International Union of North America, did not respond to a request for information about the status of the loan.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, has repeatedly raised concerns about the debt. She continues to say state law should have prohibited a loan without collateral or other protections.

More broadly, she is concerned about the ability of Brown now to leverage his political comeback to repay the debt.

"We are also worried he will hold a fundraiser to the state account, building off his successful primary win, to use his current election to raise the funds to repay the loan from the previous election," she said. "While federal funds cannot be transferred to a state account, using a federal election as a driver for this debt would certainly raise questions."

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