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March 3, 2014

Takeover Move Portents Disaster

Jill King

Once upon a time, Frederick County had a legislator – Alex X. Mooney – who was a legend in his own mind. His effectiveness in the Maryland Senate was sub-par and his campaign tactics were riddled with attacks, lacking substance.


Yes, he could raise a lot of money while running for office, but he lacked these sources during his reign of terror as president of the Maryland Republican Party. Soon after he scurried away, tail between his legs, he took his act on the road to a neighboring state, West Virginia.


Many in Frederick sighed in relief, looking forward to a lack of political attacks and hopes for campaigns based on record, ideas, and bringing people to vote without holding their nose while casting their ballots. Well...we thought that story was over.


During the 2012 U.S. congressional races, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett went for another term, even though the district had changed and he was singled out for retirement. Several others jumped in the race, not including former Senator Mooney, who was primed for his replacement. The primary was ugly; items came from the Bartlett and Kathy Afzali camps, personally attacking other Republican candidates.


Next up was the last minute robocall effort the night before the Frederick City general that could have cost Frederick Republican candidates. In this instance, a lie went out against a Democrat candidate for alderman, which more than likely strengthened her votes.


Without knowledge of any candidate or even the local Republican Central Committee member, Ted Dacey (Del. Michael Hough's legislative assistant) went to the Maryland GOP. There are still robocalls under investigation, those which sent voters to the wrong voting location.


Now, rumor had been circulating for months with insiders that Mooney's trainee, Delegate Hough, was forming a group to take over every aspect of Frederick County politics, possibly bringing Mooney back if his stint in West Virginia doesn’t pan out.


At first this was laughable, and then the final candidate filing results came in. Many familiar names in Frederick County associated with the Bartlett/Mooney clan were on that list, in all sorts of races. Some have never once been involved with meetings, such as Hough's wife, who is running for the GOP Central Committee. Along with Ted Dacey, who tried for an appointment and failed, and who is in charge of some of the latest antics against fellow Republicans.


As a Central Committee member, the job is to support Republicans. He is a basher, through his teachings. There are doubts he can be cured of this.


Next we have Congressman Bartlett's wife – Ellen. She is a pleasant enough woman and supported her husband for many years. Sitting on the first term Frederick County Council 1 seat would not be in the best interests of the constituents. It appears to be a last minute venture to help with the bigger picture.


After meeting some candidates in District 1, there is definitely one shining star with the experience and virtue needed and not a part of the grand experiment.


Next up is Delegate Hough himself, who had been raising campaign funds, statewide and nationally for years. In a recent turn of events he placed his name in opposition of a formerly unopposed Republican Sen. David Brinkley.


Senator Brinkley's effectiveness in Annapolis has been recently awarded by his fellow Republicans who elected him Senate Minority Leader, a position difficult to obtain and which takes years of earning respect.


So, why we ask, would Delegate Hough go after a secure Republican Senate seat in Frederick County? Why would he start off with dirty tactics, uploaded onto the Internet by Ted Dacey, and using his authority line on what some have called web page building for three years in order to unseat Senator Brinkley? Does he think that his views and voting record will be effective in such a blue state? Will he win based on his record as a delegate?


Will he be the laughing stock of the Maryland Senate, like Senator Mooney was?


Is he Alexander X. Mooney 2.0?


After lightly scrubbing some campaign reports of Delegate Hough, there were a few items of interest.


In 2010 Victory In 3B Slate, which bears Hough's home address (page 14), received two transfers out from the Hough for Delegate campaign; the combined total for the contributions was $9,000 and then donated to Mooney for Senate (page 19).


In an affidavit for Victory in 3B Slate, there was a clause as to intent. The signee's agreed that they intended not to receive or spend over $1,000 per transaction. Not bad for intent, eh?


Was this account just used to siphon monies from one account to another? Why did Mr. Hough use his own address to list the expenditure?


Another donation made in January 2011 by Hough for Delegate went straight to Mooney's campaign, ending in a combined total of $4,655.15. Mr. Mooney did not run for a seat in Maryland, cashing out in 2012, leaving a remaining balance of $7,219.01 in his Maryland account. At this time Marylanders were asking him to run or raise money. He gained this seat from a promise he made to the State GOP on fundraising. He did neither and helped the Bartlett campaign instead.


Last but not least, Delegate Hough decided to make yet another contribution of a significant $999 (page 58) to the West Virginia Congressional Campaign of Mooney.


During the 2012 elections, people were working in other states on the presidential campaign, when Maryland needed boots on the ground. Many frowned upon this activity.


In this case, persons donated to a delegate campaign, received a Senate candidate for a seat already in Republican hands, then had their money donated out of state.


If we allow the Hough slate to take over Frederick County politics, there will be lack of effectiveness in the Maryland Senate, a Central Committee that plays favorites in primaries and a name with no message or concept of charter in Council District 1.


This is starting to sound like the diminishing state GOP and why I must be – as Red Maryland's Greg Kline puts it – a "sometimes Republican."


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