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Government & Politics

GOP: Prince George’s Councilman Used County Resources for Political Purposes

The Prince George’s County Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against County Councilman Obie Patterson (D).

According to the complaint, a member of Patterson’s county government staff used a government email address and listserv to distribute an invitation to a reception featuring Democratic gubernatorial nominee Benjamin T. Jealous (D).

Patterson, a term-limited councilman and former member of the House of Delegates, is running for the state Senate in District 26. He is heavily favored to win in November.

“Team Patterson 26th District & Democratic Central Committee District 26 cordially invites [sic] you to a reception for Democratic Candidate Ben Jealous, for Governor,” the invitation reads.

In a letter to the executive director of the Prince George’s County Office of Ethics and Accountability, county GOP Chairman Brandon Cooper writes, “It is an insult to all Prince George’s County taxpayers for the resources of our County Government to be used to promote the candidacy of Democratic Party candidates.”

The complaint alleges that “a county employee (Shirley Anglin) acting on behalf of a county official (Obie Patterson) has used multiple county resources, including a county government email address AND a county government email listserv of private resident information, to distribute an advertisement for a political event in support of Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous.”

Attempts to reach Anglin and Patterson on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

In a memorandum sent to all county government employees in March, Robin Barnes-Shell, executive director of the ethics office, wrote that “employees may not engage in any political activity while on the job during working hours.”

It also reads, “Employees may not use any County resources for any political activity.”

In a phone interview, Barnes-Shell confirmed that all new employees receive ethics training when they begin work with the county and again every two years. She said her office reviews complaints typically within 60 days. Investigators then make a recommendation to the county Board of Ethics, chaired by Covette Rooney. The five-member panel currently has one vacancy.

“The board can do many things depending on the infraction,” Barnes-Shell said. “They can issue an order of compliance. They can issue a reprimand. They can recommend to the appropriate authority other appropriate discipline. It just depends on the infraction.”

Patterson, 80, represented District 26 in the House of Delegates before winning a council seat in 2010. He defeated Jamila Jaye Woods, a minister and therapist in the Democratic Senate primary in June. He faces Republican Ike Puzon, a business consultant who served 29 years in the U.S. Navy, in November.

The District 26 seat came open when Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D) ran unsuccessfully for county executive. Muse’s campaign was fined $500 for failing to file its June finance report until mid-August. The campaign filed its late August finance report more than two weeks late. It showed that Muse’s campaign was carrying a $42,000 debt through Aug. 21.

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GOP: Prince George’s Councilman Used County Resources for Political Purposes