Prosecutor Charges Political Slate with Making ‘Unlawful’ Primary Season Loan to Catherine Pugh

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Mayor Catherine Pugh is involved in a second campaign finance-related controversy stemming from her 2016 run for office, this time for taking what the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor says was an “unlawful” loan.

The Sun’s Luke Broadwater today caught wind of a filing by a state investigator in Anne Arundel County Court against the Baltimore County Victory Slate, funded by former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith. The charge brings a $3,000 fine against the slate, which is generally a group of candidates running on a likeminded political platform, due to a $100,000 loan it made to Pugh’s committee in April.

The loan would have been lawful had Pugh been on Smith’s slate, but she wasn’t, according to the citation.

The Baltimore Brew reported in June that Pugh’s campaign accepted the loan after the April 10 filing deadline for campaign finance reports ahead of the primary election.

Pugh went on to edge out Sheila Dixon in the primary, though state elections officials didn’t confirm her win until the next month due to another controversy related to ballots. Pugh then cruised to victory on Election Day in November.

Keith Timmons, treasurer of the Committee To Elect Catherine E. Pugh, said in a statement today that the campaign “regret[s] the clear and obvious misunderstanding which led to the prosecutor’s action against the Baltimore County political organization.”

The committee repaid the loan to the political slate and reported it on all campaign finance documents, Timmons said.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Pugh’s former legislative and campaign aide Gary Brown Jr. lost out on a delegate seat to which he had been appointed after being charged with making straw donations to Pugh’s campaign. A state prosecutor said Brown had funneled $18,000 in illegal donations to her campaign through family members’ bank accounts, violating the state’s $6,000 individual contribution limit.

Mayor Pugh said in a statement shortly after charges were filed against Brown that she was “saddened” by the allegations.

Ethan McLeod
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