Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Mother's Milk of Politics is Sour

In an article titled Candidates Filling Their War Chest, Earl Eldridge wrote in the March 2nd, 2006 edition of the Howard County Times:

From Jan. 13, 2005 through Jan. 11, 2006, Christopher Merdon, a Republican member of the Howard County Council from Ellicott City, raised $173,658 in his bid to win the executive office. Merdon had $222,730 in his campaign war chest on Jan. 11, the latest date on which candidates were required to file finance reports with the Maryland State Board of Elections. . . Kenneth Ulman, a Democrat council member from West Columbia, raised $161,698 in his bid for the office during the same period. Ulman had $196,124 on hand as of Jan. 11. . . Both Merdon and Ulman have received significant donations from developers and residents outside Howard County. Each contributor can give no more than $4,000 to candidates, according to state election law.

My question is this: what do these donors want from the candidates in exchange for their campaign contributions, especially developers, real estate agents and builders? Who really sets the priorities and plans for development in Howard County, the citizens or the campaign contributors?

The Howard County Times article goes on to state that:

[Merdon] received $3,500 from NAFA USA, a real estate management firm in Silver Spring. . . [He] also received $4,000 from Lundy Family Partners, which is connected to Harry "Chip" Lundy, president and CEO of Williamsburg Group, a Columbia-based builder . . . $6,500 from JP Bolduc and his wife, Evelyn Bolduc. Bolduc is CEO of JPB Enterprises, a venture capital and real estate investment firm in Columbia . . . On top of their individual contributions, JPB Enterprises and ETB Enterprises, both of which are controlled by the Bolduc family, gave Merdon $5,000, bringing the Bolducs' total contributions to $11,500, Merdon said. . . Ulman's top contributors [included]. . . $3,240 from Dorsey Family Homes in Woodstock; $3,000 from Hamilton Reed, LLC, a builder in Ellicott City; and $4,000 from Tucker Construction Group in Elkridge.

All of this is an indication of a much larger problem. The first sentence of the Howard County Times article:

The race for Howard County executive is on track to be the most expensive ever.

is what should most disturb the citizens of Howard County. The amount of money (the proverbial mother’s milk of politics) that it is going to cost the candidates to run for Howard County Executive (around $500,000), is a symptom of what is wrong with American politics today. If a candidate cannot win the “money primary”, they cannot run for office, no matter if they are Abe Lincoln, FDR and Reagan combined. Most of us have only one vote to give to a candidate. But wealthy individuals and corporations have many “votes” they can give, it is called money. Which phone call, office visit, email or letter is a politician going to attend to, the lowly citizen with one vote or the campaign contributor with the “money vote”? And this criticism is not aimed at any individual candidate (even though some Republicans of late are up to their necks in corruption), this is a criticism of our political system; a system that allows and abets corruption to masquerade in the disguise of “politics as usual” or “being competitive” or “free speech”. What is needed is campaign finance reform. We need “clean campaigns” in Maryland and we should start now, right here in Howard County.


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