Friday, September 03, 2010

Kagan Responds to Forehand's Negative Mailer

District 17 Senate challenger Cheryl Kagan has issued the following response to Senator Jennie Forehand's negative mailer on ethics. Interestingly, Kagan includes a quote from Congressman Chris Van Hollen.


(ROCKVILLE, September 3, 2010) - U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen today commended District 17 State Senate candidate Cheryl Kagan for her initiatives to “limit the excessive influence of special interests” in politics. Kagan kicked off her campaign last year with a “Clean Seventeen” pledge to accept only half the maximum amount of campaign contributions allowed under law, as well as voluntarily close the so-called “LLC Loophole” that allows wealthy interests to skirt the law entirely. She has since returned money that exceeded her self-imposed limit.

“I commend you for your campaign finance initiatives to limit the excessive influence of special interests in the legislative and political process,” Van Hollen wrote in a letter to Kagan. “It is essential that we take action at the federal, state and local levels to ensure that the people’s interest triumphs over well financed special interests.”

“I’m so gratified by Chris’s kind words about my work on ethics and campaign finance reform,” said Kagan. “We share a desire to reduce the influence of big money in politics. I hope to continue my work to strengthen state campaign financing laws in the State Senate just as Chris is working in Congress to improve the federal system.”

Ironically, Van Hollen’s praise came as Kagan’s opponent, incumbent senator Jennie Forehand, launched a puzzling attack that in essence complained that her challenger was too diligent in following ethics laws 14 years ago.

“Jennie seems confused,” said Kagan, who represented the same district in the House of Delegates for eight years. “The point of the story she’s raised in her attack mailer is that I followed not just the letter of Maryland’s ethics laws, but the spirit of them as well. In fact, I was praised for doing so by the media.”

The basis of Forehand’s distorted charge: long before she met and married her husband, Kagan dated a man who happened to be a lobbyist. All but $40.50 of the total referenced in Forehand’s attack mailer were the expenses of their dates, which Kagan disclosed even though she was not required to do so. She even voted against her then-boyfriend’s top client!

While Kagan was busy assiduously following ethics and campaign finance laws, over the past 10 years Jennie Forehand has hidden the sources of more than one-fifth of her campaign contributions-- over $35,000-- in so-called “lump sum” amounts. Voters have no way of knowing who contributed how much when the money is stashed in these catch-all accounts. Forehand is the “Lump Sum Leader” in Montgomery County, secretly bundling more than four times as much as any other Montgomery County legislator.

Maryland Politics Watch, the respected political blog that reported on Forehand’s abuse of the lump sum system, described her as “on a different level” than any other candidate when it came to squirreling away money. It called her single biggest lump sum report “remarkable.” “...[W]hen a candidate employs [lump sums] to shield one-tenth, one-fifth or more of his or her donor base from identification, that creates the possibility of abuse,” MPW noted (

Lump sum reporting is supposed to represent groups of small donations (less than $51 each), and even so is discouraged by campaign finance authorities because it robs the public of important information as to who funds candidates’ campaigns. Forehand’s use of lump sum reporting doesn’t add up: for all of the individual donations that make up her $36,251 lump sum category to be under $50 each (with no repeat givers), she would need over 700 donors. She’s had fewer than 250.

“I hope Jennie will reveal all the sources of her campaign money, just as I and all accountable and responsible candidates do, and as the law requires,” said Kagan. She made the same request to Forehand directly at a recent Rockville debate.

Kagan has just created a new page on her web site called “Check the Facts!” with more information and links.

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