ANNAPOLIS — Nearly a month after Del. Dereck E. Davis summarized how a proposed campaign fundraising restriction only affects his jurisdiction of Prince George’s County, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks called the ban “unfair.”
Alsobrooks spoke about the proposed legislation Davis plans to reintroduce during the 90-day Maryland General Assembly, which convened Wednesday.
“Part of the irony of it is this not only applies to Prince George’s County, which just so happens to be the only majority-minority county in this state, but it does not apply to any other county executive in the state,” Alsobrooks said. “The equitable fix is that this either applies to every county executive to this state, or no county executive. It strikes at the chord of injustice.”
The ban, which became in effect about 10 years ago when former County Executive Rushern L. Baker III led the majority-Black area, would repeal a ban from developers, business owners, or other agents from making contributions to the county executive or a slate of candidates “during the pendency of a certain application” in the county.
The contribution ban also sought to change the image of Prince George’s, especially after a federal judge sentenced former County Executive Jack Johnson in 2001 to 87 months in prison for bribes, extortion and tampering.
Although the county’s image has improved since that time, critics said Baker trailed in fundraising behind several candidates in the 2018 Democratic primary. Baker stood high in the polls, but eventually lost to former NAACP President Ben Jealous.
Alsobrooks and Davis say the county executive doesn’t vote on land-use projects because that’s the job of the county council. The ban would remain for council members.
Davis (D-District 25) of Mitchellville said he didn’t speak with Alsobrooks about the bill, but admitted if she pursued a run for governor when Gov. Larry Hogan’s term expires in 2022, the repeal would help her raise additional money. He stressed at last month’s county delegation public session at Prince George’s Community College in Largo running for a major statewide office takes more than “spaghetti dinners or bake sales” to win.
As for whether Alsobrooks would consider a run for governor, she said she’s focused on county priorities such as closing the education gap, economic development and creation of an elder abuse registry to protect seniors.
“I am little fired up about the job I have,” she said. “I’m enjoying it.”
As for Davis’ bill, it passed last year in the House of Delegates, but died in the Senate based on a reasoning to keep a clean appearance of conflicts of interests.
That’s the exact point a few residents made when Davis spoke about the bill last month at a county delegation public session at Prince George’s Community College.
“You are asking to repeal an ethics bill in a county that has had issues with ethics,” said Janna Parker of Temple Hills. “This is not appropriate. There is not a Prince George’s County resident that does not want to see Angela Alsobrooks as governor, but … she can do it without developer money.”