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Government & Politics

Super PAC Cranks Up to Aid Almond in Baltimore County Exec Primary

Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki L. Almond (D) is in line to get a last-minute surge of support for her campaign for county executive, thanks to a super PAC created last month to boost her primary election effort.

Paperwork for the Baltimore County Votes political action committee was filed at the Maryland State Board of Elections in Annapolis on May 17, two days after the state’s last campaign finance report filing deadline.

That means any contributions to and expenditures by the Baltimore County Votes PAC will likely not be known until the final pre-primary reporting deadline — which is midnight Friday, a day after early voting begins in Maryland. The primary election is June 26.

Unlike traditional political action committees, super PACs may accept unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals, but those entities are considered “independent expenditure” committees, meaning their activities cannot be coordinated with any candidate’s campaign committee.

In this case, the Almond campaign is not allowed by law to know what Baltimore County Votes is doing to support her, which could include advertisements on television, radio and social media or even get-out-the-vote efforts.

The existence of the super PAC was first reported last week by The Towson Flyer in an article by editor Kristine Henry.

Kathleen M. Bustraan, a Towson lawyer active in county Democratic politics, chairs the Baltimore County Votes PAC; Jodi L. Schwartz, another political activist, is treasurer.

“We formed it to support Vicki because we think she’s been a good county councilwoman, and we think she’d be a good county executive,” Bustraan said. “Beyond that, we don’t have much more to say.”

Bustraan is secretary of Central Baltimore County Democratic Club, an organization based in Towson that claims membership in northwest, northern and eastern sections of the county.

Schwartz is campaign treasurer for Del. Shelly L. Hettleman, a Democrat from Baltimore County’s District 11, and was once custodian of records for LEGPAC, a federal political action committee controlled by U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.).

CBCDC did not make an endorsement for Baltimore County executive, as no candidate received 60 percent of the club’s vote required for the nod, the club’s Facebook page stated.

In that polling, John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr., a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, received 43 percent of the vote; Almond 30 percent; and state Sen. James Brochin 24 percent.

Two percent of the club members voted for “no endorsement,” according to the CBCDC Facebook page. A fourth declared Democratic candidate, Kevin Francis Marron, received no votes.

As for Bustraan’s involvement in the super PAC for Almond, CBCDC’s executive board issued a statement about participating in the upcoming election.

“During the primary season, our members support many different candidates and we celebrate their right to do so,” the statement reads. “We encourage members to be active participants in primary campaigns of their choosing.”

After the primary, the executive board wrote, “our pledge … is in July to unite behind the Democratic nominees for office so that our nominees win in November.”

The news about the super PAC supporting Almond comes as The Baltimore Sun and University of Baltimore released a poll Tuesday showing Brochin ahead in the Democratic primary with 30 percent, compared to 22 percent for Almond and 14 percent for Olszewski.

The poll of 400 likely Democratic primary voters, taken May 30-June 9 by the Annapolis-based firm OpinionWorks, had a 4.9-point margin of error.

The Democratic primary victor will face the winner of the Republican primary, between state Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer Jr. and state Del. Patrick L. McDonough. A Sun/UB poll of 400 likely Republican voters showed McDonough ahead, 39 percent to 34 percent.

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Super PAC Cranks Up to Aid Almond in Baltimore County Exec Primary