By Bruce DePuyt
It’s not every day that an elected official introduces legislation targeting a political rival.
But behold House Bill 1576, sponsored by Del. Patrick L. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican running for county executive.
The measure would require that top state officials — members of the governor’s cabinet, agency secretaries and department heads — resign their post if they are seeking elective office. McDonough spoke on the bill’s behalf Tuesday at a House hearing.
“Someone like the secretary of planning presents a lesser possibility of conflict,” McDonough said in a statement. “But an official like the insurance commissioner clearly has a problem.”
McDonough’s rival in the GOP primary is Alfred W. Redmer Jr., head of the Maryland Insurance Administration.
In the delegate’s view, Redmer shouldn’t be allowed to continue in his current post while he campaigns for county executive and raises money.
“The insurance commissioner regulates every individual and business that is required to have insurance,” McDonough writes. “It seems inappropriate to ask for money, or even votes, from the citizens you regulate.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox captured the general reaction to McDonough’s bill on Tuesday with a tweet that began, “From the Annals of Blatant Self-Interest…”
The Redmer campaign wouldn’t directly comment, though communications director Hannah Marr pointed a reporter to a notice at redmer2018.com which reads, “This campaign will adhere to all Maryland state ethics and campaign finance laws. We shall not accept contributions from individuals or businesses regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration.”
McDonough may be an unlikely champion when it comes to ethics. Last month, the Sun reported that he would be filing an amended campaign finance report to acknowledge that he pays no rent on the Carroll Island Shopping Center space he uses as a campaign headquarters. He told the paper that the location, which is owned by the Cordish Companies, a major developer, has no heat, and therefore has “zero value.”
Questions about McDonough’s original filing were raised by the conservative website Red Maryland.
Redmer has a fundraising lead over McDonough in the race for county executive. In the most recent filing report, Redmer reported $189,000 in new contributions and $122,800 cash on hand after expenses. McDonough reported $70,400 in new contributions and $29,500 in the bank.
In addition to Redmer and McDonough, four Democrats and an independent are running for Baltimore county executive. Incumbent Kevin B. Kamenetz (D) is running for governor.