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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


March 1, 2017

Backroom Deals and Ethics Spiels

Guest Columnist

Kirby Delauter

 

When County Executive Jan Gardner (CE) was running for office just two years ago, her mantra was “open and transparent government where everyone can be part of the process.” She said she wanted to reform the ethics laws so we could trust our government.

 

It all sounds just wonderful; it sounds like something out of a fairy tale from the land of milk and honey. While Jan is spewing these lines to draw your attention in that direction, she is behind the scenes doing other things that aren’t exactly “open and transparent.”

 

As you may be aware, State Sen. Michael Hough (R., 4th) has introduced legislation in Annapolis to override CE Gardner’s fluffy, feel good ethics proposal. Her reform proposal does nothing that isn’t already on the books. Her premise in doing her version is so that during the next election cycle she can talk about her ethics reform. Although her reform is only a whiskers’ difference from what already exists, she can skew the facts and state she is now the champion of ethics in the county. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

 

Now, back to Senator Hough’s proposal. His measure actually brings some real reform to the county’s ethics law. His has three provisions. The main one is that any election campaign donations of $500 or more must be reported and available for public view within 24 hours of receiving them. This allows the people to see who is contributing to whom, and when they contributed.

 

As it stands now, if someone contributes to an elected official in March, you may not see this until the following January. CE Gardner is livid over this proposal and for good reason. If you’re not on the take, and you make decisions based on what’s best for the county over what’s best for your campaign account, you probably could care less if this passes.

 

Here are just two (there are many more) reasons that CE Gardner has a big problem with Senator Hough’s ethics proposal.

 

Back in March of 2016, Comcast was in negotiations with the county (CE Gardner headed these negotiations) on their service and collection of fees. This represents a lot of dollars to Comcast and they are very interested in the outcome of these negotiations with the county executive.

 

Well, low and behold, if you look at Jan Gardner’s campaign finance report during the same time period these negotiations were ongoing, Comcast donated $500 to her election campaign account.

 

Now, you may say: “Delauter, you’re crazy, maybe it was just an odd coincidence?”

 

Really?

 

Let’s keep looking. In December of 2016 CE Gardner had been pushing for the Downtown Hotel Conference Center (DTHCC). She pushed so hard against those opposed to this project that she went ahead and approved a tax increment financing tool (TIF) to assist in getting this project of the runway.

 

Once again we look at her campaign finance account and see that the lobbyist for the DTHCC also paid $500 into Gardner’s campaign account.

 

When I was on the Board of County Commissioners, we approved several TIF’s for infrastructure. Among these was the bridge at the Jefferson Tech Park, which has created thousands of jobs and increased revenue to the county. Another will be the Meadow Road interchange, which will ease congestion from the Linganore area and also Route 144. It’s funny, back then Jan Gardner was adamantly opposed to TIF’s. She said the taxpayers were footing the bill for developers.

 

I guess when Comcast and lobbyists started padding her campaign account, she can then see the light as to how a TIF will now be a good thing for a downtown hotel.

 

Don’t be fooled by Jan Gardner. She has the Hillary Clinton “Pay to Play” handbook, and she’s using it in Frederick County.

 

Follow the money and you’ll see that every decision she makes will have a financial impact on her campaign account. Frederick County is for sale and, as Jan gets more campaign cash, taxpayers will foot the bill. Similar to the words of former County Commissioner John ‘Lennie’ Thompson: If Jan wins, you lose.

 



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