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Bill to restrict borrowing by candidates triggered by Brown loan

A proposed bill in the Maryland Senate would outlaw a type of loan taken out by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in his failed campaign for governor last year when he borrowed $500,000 from a union in the final weeks of his campaign.

Sen. Gail Bates, a Howard County Republican, said her legislation was triggered by that loan. Brown, a Democrat, has yet to repay the loan from the Laborers International Union and had almost no money left in his campaign account as of last month. When he took out the loan for his campaign against now-Gov. Larry Hogan, he signed a note making him personally liable for repayment.

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Under current Maryland law Brown has four more years to repay the loan before it converts to an illegal campaign contribution. The maximum contribution during the last election cycle was $4,000. He has pledged to see that the loan is repaid but it is unclear how he will do so.

Bates' bill would allow candidates to borrow large sums only from traditional lending institutions and cut the maximum repayment time to two years. It would also make the candidate, as well as the lender, liable for any penalties imposed for a failure to repay on time.

The bill is intended to make sure candidates do not take out loans unless there is a reasonable expectation they can be repaid, Bates said.

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