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Maryland Democratic Party accuses donors to Gov. Hogan of violations; Hogan lawyer calls complaint 'false'

Maryland Democratic Party accuses donors to Gov. Hogan of violations; Hogan lawyer calls complaint 'false'
In a complaint to the Maryland Board of Elections, the state Democratic Party accused nearly 100 donors to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's campaign of exceeding limits on how much money they can give. Hogan campaign attorney Chris Ashby called the complaint "false" and "sloppy." (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Maryland Democratic Party on Monday accused nearly 100 donors to Gov. Larry Hogan’s successful reelection campaign of violating elections law by donating too much money to the governor.

Chris Ashby, an attorney for the Republican governor’s campaign, called the party’s complaint to the state Board of Elections “false” and “sloppy” and predicted it would be dismissed.

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Under Maryland law, donors may not give more than $6,000 to a candidate every four years.

“It appears that there are 96 individuals and businesses who were in violation of the $6,000 donation limit during the last election,” Ben Smith, director of the state Democratic Party, wrote in a complaint to Jared DeMarinis, director of campaign finance for the elections board.

Smith said the donations provided Hogan, who was re-elected last year, with more than $210,000 in illegal contributions.

“I am formally requesting that you please open an investigation into these possible campaign finance violations,” Smith wrote.

DeMarinis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ashby said the Hogan campaign already refunded some of the contributions from individuals and companies who gave more than the legal limit and would review others.

“This complaint is demonstrably false. Instead of rushing to tell the media about their shoddy political hit job, the Maryland Democratic Party's operatives should have taken more time to examine all of our publicly available campaign finance reports and gather accurate information,” Ashby said.

“Our campaign always has been and will remain committed to operating within the limits established by Maryland law, to making full and timely campaign finance disclosures as the law requires, and to correcting any bookkeeping errors promptly, as we have done in the past. We look forward to the swift dismissal of this sloppy complaint.”

The Hogan campaign also noted the 96 individual donors cited in the complaint represent less than one-half of 1% of the governor’s more than 20,000 donors.

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