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Schulz, O'Malley urge state elections board to investigate complaints

Rachel Baye

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kelly Schulz and Democratic Attorney General candidate Katie Curran O’Malley are calling for the Maryland Board of Elections to investigate two national political action committees for alleged campaign law violations.

The treasurer for Schulz’s campaign accused the Democratic Governors Association, a national advocacy group that seeks to elect Democratic candidates, of committing perjury by misrepresenting its activities, according to a complaint filed on Saturday.

An attorney on behalf of the O’Malley campaign alleged VoteVets, a progressive political action committee led by military veterans to elect more Democrats, missed transparency requirements and was late to report expenditures, a complaint filed on Monday shows.

The state notifies the alleged offenders to allow 30 days to respond. Penalties for violating state election laws vary but not filing expenditures in a timely manner could mean a $1,000 a day fine.

The Schulz campaign warned supporters in late June that Democrats may attempt to meddle in the Republican primary by promoting a more radical candidate to face off against the Democratic nominee in the general election.

Since then, the Democratic Governors Association raised about $1 million from donors to spend on political campaign ads in Maryland, records on file with the state show.

Sam Malhorta, Schulz’ campaign treasurer, said the media ad blitz amounts to “extreme political subterfuge” and is against state election law that prohibits misleading political communication.

The ads, in heavy rotation on local television channels, tout Schulz’s opponent, Dan Cox's endorsement by former president Donald Trump. The ads appear as of they are praising his anti-abortion and pro-gun rights stances before concluding he is “too conservative for Maryland.”

“Republican voters in Maryland should determine their nominee for governor, not national Democratic groups,” Malhotra wrote.

The Schulz campaign alleges that the national organization misled the state when it said it opposed Dan Cox for governor and pushed for the case to be referred to the state prosecutor’s office.

“Despite these toxic tactics from the DGA, our campaign will win and remains focused on delivering real results for the people of Maryland,” Malhorta continued.

Sam Newton, deputy communications director for the Democratic Governors Association, called the claims “bogus.”

He said in a statement it is “just the latest desperate stunt from Kelly Schulz to cover for her failed debate-dodging campaign. As we’ve made clear, given Trump-endorsed Dan Cox's frontrunner status in multiple polls and radical MAGA stances, the DGA is starting the general election early and wasting no time to hold him accountable.”

Crownsville attorney James Temple Jr. submitted a complaint on behalf of O’Malley claiming that VoteVets' report is missing information.

The report detailed expenditures of $399,651 but contributions of only $275,000 which means the political action committee did not disclose contributors for upwards of $124,600. Beyond that, not all contributors are clearly identified and two expenditures were made on July 5 but not reported until July 8 which potentially could violate the 48-hour reporting rule.

One notable contribution was $250,000 from June Trone, who is the wife of David Trone, a Maryland congressman.

VoteVets claims that the potential violation was a mistake because of a computer glitch.

“The Board of Elections had computer problems on their end and had VoteVets file an interim report while they fixed their computers,” said Eric Schmeltzer, spokesperson for VoteVets in an email.

The state board declined to comment, citing a pending investigation.

Kristen Mosbrucker is a digital news editor and producer for WYPR. @k_mosbrucker
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