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Government & Politics

Records: Union Cash Went to Aid Jealous, Liberal Candidates, Conservative Ministers’ PAC

After failing to file campaign finance reports in Maryland for years, the New York-based political action committee for a health care workers union has disclosed to state elections officials that it contributed nearly $900,000 to candidates and groups in Maryland just since Jan. 1.

More than half of that money — $500,000 — went to the Maryland Together We Rise PAC, a so-called Super PAC supporting Benjamin T. Jealous for governor, according to records posted Thursday night on the Maryland State Board of Elections website.

The remaining $373,690.65 contributed by the political action committee for Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was spread among 44 candidate committees in Maryland, a Washington, D.C., mailing house, a Baltimore County slate and a PAC established by conservative clergymen in Prince George’s County.

This is the first time those figures have been disclosed by the PAC, either in New York or Maryland.

Benjamin T. Jealous

On Monday, the 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund registered as an out-of-state committee with the Maryland State Board of Elections — after an inquiry to state officials last week by Maryland Matters about the source of campaign mailers circulating in Baltimore.

Since then, the Manhattan-based PAC has filed a series of campaign finance reports and amendments with the State Board of Elections, in an effort to comply with the Maryland law requiring out-of-state campaign committees to register and file the reports periodically, at least a half-dozen times in an election year.

As subsequent reports were compiled and posted on the elections board website, the total spent by the New York PAC on the Maryland primary election next Tuesday grew to $873,690.65 for the period between Jan. 1 and June 10, the state’s most recent filing deadline.

The first report filed Tuesday by the 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund showed only that on May 29, 2018, it had paid $65,809.35 to Online Printing Associates in Washington for mailings.

A later report, posted Thursday, showed that on June 6, 2018, the union PAC paid another $40,381.30 to Online Printing Associates, again for mailings, bringing the total to $106,190.65. In both cases, no detail was offered in the reports as to which candidates were targeted to be supported or opposed in the mailings.

Alexander Rabb, a New York lawyer representing the 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund, told state elections officials in an email Thursday that the union’s reports “disclosing all of its 2018 expenditures” through the June 10 filing deadline had been filed.

Rabb, with the law firm of Levy Ratner P.C. in Manhattan, said the union PAC will detail additional expenditures on the next report, which is due Aug. 28 for the period of June 11 to Aug. 21.

The 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund also apparently plans to file campaign finance disclosure reports for the entirety of Maryland’s election cycle, dating to the start, Jan. 1, 2015.

“The committee is prepared to file additional reports detailing past expenditures and receipts, and request that you adjust its registration date to 1/1/15 to allow for reporting of any further missing transactions,” Rabb wrote to Jared J. DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections.

“The committee will file any further missing reports no later than June 29, 2018,” Raab wrote.

The 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund has filed paperwork with the New York State Board of Elections, but for years has not filed with the Maryland board, despite giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to campaign committees here.

Because the Maryland and New York state campaign finance filing deadlines are different, only a handful contributions since the first of the year had been reported until now.

The only information disclosed previously was for the 12-day period between Jan. 1, 2018, and Jan. 12, 2018 – the end of New York’s most recent campaign finance reporting period – during which the 1199SEIU PAC gave $36,500 to Maryland candidates, New York State Board of Elections records showed. That state’s next filing deadline is July 16, 2018, for the period of Jan. 12, 2018 through July 12, 2018.

New York records also show that from Jan. 1, 2015, and Jan. 12, 2018, the SEIU PAC gave $495,984.34 to Maryland candidates and to aid state political organizations.

That means the union PAC has contributed nearly $1.4 million to Maryland candidate committees since the start of the state’s election cycle nearly four years ago.

Maryland records show that 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East most recently registered as an out-of-state campaign committee with the state election board on June 8, 2007.

That account was closed Oct. 3, 2016, though it does not appear that campaign finance reports were filed in Maryland before that date, during the first 22 months of the state’s current four-year election cycle, which began Jan. 1, 2015.

In a statement issued Thursday morning, the 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund said its failure to file reports in Maryland was “inadvertent,” caused by “internal processing errors involving political expenditures.”

Penalties for failing to register and file reports could easily run to thousands of dollars and involve an investigation by the State Prosecutor’s Office.

Included in the information disclosed in reports filed by the PAC Thursday with the Maryland State Election Board:

  • Two transfers totaling $500,000 to the Maryland Together We Rise PAC, a Baltimore-based Super PAC affiliated with the SEIU’s Local 1199, established Feb. 2, 2018, to support Ben Jealous’ candidacy. On Feb. 21, 2018, the 1199SEIU NYS Political Action Fund transferred $100,000; on May 30, 2018, it transferred another $400,000.

As a Super PAC, Maryland Together We Rise is considered an independent expenditure committee and is prohibited from coordinating efforts with the Jealous campaign. Most of the money spent by the Super PAC the has gone to polling, mailings and advertising.

  • The 1199SEIU PAC transferred $25,000 on March 8, 2018, to the Maryland Citizens Clergy PAC, which according to state election board records was established by two Prince George’s County ministers as chairman and treasurer Aug. 8, 2010, for “social justice – social conservative.”

The clergy PAC twice this year filed affidavits with the State Board of Elections stating that it did intend to receive or spend more than $1,000 in the reporting periods since Jan. 12, 2018. There is no record of the SEIU’s $25,000 transfer in the PAC’s filings with the elections board.

Listed as the PAC chairman is Derek Antonio McCoy of Lanham. Originally the treasurer was Rev. Henry Pinckney Davis, but he was replaced Oct. 1, 2010, by Robert W. Trice Jr., senior pastor of Abyssinia Baptist Church in Capitol Heights, who has remained treasurer since.

The Rev. Robert W. Trice Jr.

McCoy, an associate pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, was a leading opponent of Maryland’s legalizing same-sex marriage and an early supporter of Donald J. Trump for president. He has openly decried the Democratic Party and in the past represented family interests at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

  • An April 30, 2018, transfer of $6,000 to the Baltimore County Future Slate, made up of Friends of John Olszewski Jr., Friends of Samuel Justin Holliday, and Citizens for Carl Jackson.

Olszewski, known as “Johnny O,” is running for Baltimore County executive in the June 26 Democratic primary; Holliday is running for the House of Delegates from District 6; and Jackson is running for a District 8 House seat.

  • Two $6,000 contributions to Friends of Nick Mosby, the campaign account for Del. Nicholas J. Mosby, the Democrat running for the House seat from Baltimore’s 40th District to which he was appointed last year. He is husband of Marilyn J. Mosby, the Baltimore City state’s attorney running this year for re-election.

Maryland law allows one $6,000 contribution by a PAC to a candidate campaign account in the state’s four-year election cycle.

The union PAC contributed $6,000 to the Mosby campaign on Jan. 9, 2018, and another $6,000 on April 30, 2018. The first contribution is noted in the delegate’s Jan. 10, 2018, report, but the campaign apparently has not filed the two subsequent reports required by the elections board since then, records show.

The 119SEIU PAC paid for one mailer this month that was sent citywide in support of Marilyn Mosby’s re-election bid. It also gave a total of $15,000 to Marilyn Mosby’s campaign between 2014 and 2017, according to New York State Board of Elections files.

  • Two $6,000 contributions to Friends for Alonzo Washington, the campaign account for Del. Alonzo T. Washington, a Prince George’s County Democrat running for re-election to a District 22 House seat.

Again, the 1199SEIU PAC contributed $6,000 to the Washington’s campaign on Jan. 9, 2018, and another $6,000 on April 30, 2018. The first contribution is noted in his Jan. 10, 2018, report, but the second contribution is not noted in either of his two subsequent reports, records show.

If the second contribution were made to the Washington campaign, as stated in the 119SEIU PAC report filed this week, it also would appear to violate Maryland’s prohibition against more than one $6,000 contribution by a PAC to a candidate campaign account in a four-year election cycle.

Washington said in an interview that he didn’t report the second check because he didn’t intend to deposit it, and said in fact that he intended to return it to the union.

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Records: Union Cash Went to Aid Jealous, Liberal Candidates, Conservative Ministers’ PAC