Howard County’s Republican Central Committee has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections against Democrat Calvin Ball’s county executive campaign, claiming Ball’s team made intentional errors in campaign finance reports from January 2017 and January 2018.
Jared DeMarinis, director of the candidacy and campaign finance division at the elections board, confirmed that his department received the complaint on Tuesday.
Ball, a member of the County Council, is in the Democratic primary and hopes to challenge incumbent Republican Allan Kittleman, who so far has no primary opposition, in the November general election for the county’s top elected position.
The complaint alleges the Ball campaign’s amended January 2017 annual financial report claimed the campaign held a larger amount of money in its bank account than actually existed.
In the campaign’s original annual financial report filed on Jan. 18, 2017, the campaign stated it had $88,684.40 in its bank account, and in its amended report filed on Jan. 23, 2017, it noted it had $107,362.98 in its bank account. The complaint claims that the additional $18,678.58 is not accounted for in the amended 2017 finance report.
The campaign’s Jan. 17, 2018 report, which includes transactions from Jan. 12, 2017 to Jan. 10, 2018, stated that when the filing period began, the campaign held $88,684.40 and now had a cash balance of $246,083.91. The campaign filed an amended report for that period on Wednesday, with a cash balance of $223,733.91.
“At the best this is just showing complete mismanagement but at the worst it’s fraud,” said Chris Oxenham, vice chairman of the Howard County Central Republican Committee. “He at least owes Howard County voters an explanation.”
A spokesperson for Ball’s campaign said the discrepancies were an “administrative error” that has been corrected in the amended 2018 report.
“This is a lot of effort by the Howard County Republican Party focused on one candidate for what amounts to some administrative errors on the filing,” Ball’s campaign said in a statement. “That said, we take these reports very seriously and have been in touch with with the Board of Elections.”
DeMarinis said the elections board will determine if the complaint has legal sufficiency to be investigated by the board. He said there is no timeline for when a decision on the complaint could be made.
DeMarinis said campaigns are allowed to amend financial reports to correct errors without punishment, but that if errors are determined to be intentional, it could lead to penalties of up to $25,000.