An anti-Sheila Dixon ad run by Clean Slate Baltimore

Candidates running for Baltimore City Council say they are surprised and concerned after seeing they were endorsed by a political action committee that has been distributing negative materials against former Mayor Sheila Dixon, a leading mayoral candidate.

Several candidates told The Baltimore Sun they do not support the Clean Slate Baltimore PAC's negative campaign tactics and did not seek the group's endorsement.


"I was surprised to see my face and bio on their website. They just took it from my site," said Kris Burnett, who is running to succeed retiring Councilwoman Helen Holton in Southwest Baltimore's 8th District. "I know nothing about them other than they're slinging mud. At the last forum, they were handing out a [fake] mug shot of Sheila Dixon. I definitely don't support them or their tactics. It's disappointing."

Likewise, John Bullock, who is challenging Councilman William "Pete" Welch in West Baltimore's 9th District, said he did not seek out the group's endorsement.

"It was a surprise to me," Bullock said. "Negative ads aren't my angle. If they're trying to go in a different direction, that would be welcomed."

Shannon Sneed, who is running against Councilman Warren Branch in East Baltimore's 13th District, was also chagrined by the endorsement.

"I have no idea about Clean Slate at all," she said. "I know a lot of things they put out against former Mayor Sheila Dixon. I don't think it's a good group to be endorsed by. Baltimore City needs to move in positive direction. This negativity isn't helping."

According to its website, the Clean Slate Baltimore PAC also has endorsed candidates Mark Edelson (1st District), Jermaine Jones (3rd District), Brian Hammock (4th District), Betsy Gardner (5th District), former State Del. Shawn Tarrant (7th District) and Councilman Eric T. Costello (11th District).

Walter Ludwig, the managing partner of Indigo Strategies, a Washington, D.C., firm, said he has been contracted to run the PAC.

"We endorsed people we think would be good in city government and we oppose people we think wouldn't be good," Ludwig said.

The Clean Slate Baltimore PAC been distributing negative ads and fliers against Dixon. One ad portrays Dixon as the Grinch. Its fliers depict Dixon as a criminal in a fictional police line-up.

The Clean Slate PAC's founder is Alexander M. Sanchez, who is the director of politics and government relations for the Laborers' International Union's Mid-Atlantic region.

Ludwig said Sanchez's role in the PAC is minimal, and that his employee, Layne Hockaday, is in charge.

Sanchez is the former Secretary of Labor under former Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley who campaigned for O'Malley during his unsuccessful presidential run.

Sanchez's union donated $120,000 to the Clean Slate PAC, which has hired Baltimore company Storyfarm to make videos. Storyfarm also has made videos for O'Malley's presidential campaign and for City Councilman Nick J. Mosby's mayoral campaign.

Storyfarm has a formal partnership with KO Public Affairs, the consulting firm run by Steve Kearney, O'Malley's former communications director.


Jamie Fontaine, who recently joined Kearney's firm, has been recruiting paid canvassers for the Clean Slate PAC's anti-Dixon fliers.