UPDATE: Sheriff’s Campaign Finances

September 9, 2010

    Cecil Times has published multiple reports on the campaign finances of the crowded field of candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries for Cecil County Sheriff. Here is a brief update on where the candidates’ finances stand as of the most recent reports to the state Board of Elections, filed Sept. 3.

Democratic Primary Candidates:


 He raised an additional $14,688 since his last campaign finance report. After expenses of $8,978, plus a carry-over balance of about $24, he ended up with $5,684 cash in the bank.  Most of his funds came from another golf fundraising event.

 But he also had several large donations, the largest of which was $1,250 from Sentman Distributors in Elkton. He also had several donations from businesses in the southern part of the county, including $500 from TD Enterprises in Earleville, $400 from First Choice Concrete in Earleville, and a $300 donation from the Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City.

Republicans contributing  $440 each for entry fees for the golf event included Chris Zeauskas, whose campaign in the GOP primary for 2nd District county commissioner previously received donations from Democrat Sutton;  Michael Halter, a GOP primary candidate for State’s Attorney; and Will Davis, who ran as a Republican candidate for State’s Attorney four years ago. Halter and Davis also participated in an earlier golf fundraiser.


   He raised an additional $1,200, and had expenses of $1,537.  His largest expense was $1,095 for a full page ad in the Cecil Whig. 

   Adding in his $2,231 carryover bank balance from his last report, he ended up with $1,894 cash in the bank.

   DeWitt’s fundraising came from individual and business donors, with no new fundraising events. White Horse Apartments in Perryville contributed $400 while Wright’s Auto in Elkton gave $300.


  The last-minute entrant into the Democratic primary had been all but invisible on the campaign trail but surfaced with a fundraiser event in Port Deposit. But the $2,056 costs of the event were more than the $1,985 it raised from  ticket purchases.  Gerczak, a former Baltimore City police officer, received a $500  Political Action Committee donation from the Fraternal Order of Police, Baltimore City Lodge 3.

  He had no campaign printing expenses but did receive an in-kind donation of $300 worth of signs and pamphlets from Donald Allen of North East. He has $429  cash on hand in his bank account.

Republican Primary Candidates:


The pre-primary campaign finance report that was due to be filed Sept. 3 has not yet been filed, according to the state Board of Elections website. The Board has assessed a late fee/fine of $40 as of Thursday, Sept. 9.


   Slater continued to pick up the pace of his campaign, with new fundraising and contributions totaling $3,785 since the previous pre-primary report he filed in early August. Most of his funds came from a dinner he hosted at the Hack’s Point fire hall in Earleville. Despite the southern Cecil County location of the event, most of the ticket purchasers were from the northern part of the county, as well as purchasers from Pennsylvania and Harford County. However, direct donations to his campaign in the latest report showed the largest sum, $300, came from an Earleville resident, Pat Smart.

  After expenses of $1,986,  and a carry-over bank balance from his last campaign finance report, Slater had  net proceeds of $1,868 cash in the bank.


   He contributed another $120 to his own campaign, and after spending $307 on a newspaper ad, had just $33 cash in the bank.

Assault Cases Dropped Against Two Deputies

February 9, 2010

   Separate assault cases against two Cecil County Sheriff’s Deputies have been dropped, according to court records. In addition, a civil suit filed by the deputies against Sheriff Barry Janney– challenging their assignments to  menial, non-law enforcement duties pending the outcome of their criminal cases– has been dismissed.

   Gregory D. Passwaters,  of Earleville, a veteran deputy who was assigned to patrol southern Cecil County, was indicted by a grand jury  last summer on a charge of second-degree assault stemming from an off-duty incident last May. The investigation of the alleged incident, reportedly occurring at the Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City, was handled by State Police.

   According to court documents, a “notice of dismissal” was filed in the case on February 8 and the state declined to prosecute further.

 In a separate, unrelated case, an assault charge against another deputy, Thomas H. Pierson III, of Elkton, was dropped in December. That case allegedly involved an off-duty altercation with another deputy. Court files show the state declined to prosecute on Nov. 25 and a dismissal notice was filed December 4, 2009.

   Passwaters and  Pierson filed a civil suit last August against Sheriff Janney, saying they had been assigned to the county parks department and ordered to mow grass and pull weeds while suspended from law enforcement duties pending the outcome of their criminal cases. The deputies maintained that re-assigning them to the Parks agency, instead of administrative duties within the Sheriff’s Department, was a violation of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.

  Court records show that civil suit was terminated with a “stipulation of dismissal” filed by the deputies on December 23.

   The Cecil Times does not usually cover crime or court cases, since that is one of the things the Cecil Whig actually does report on in great detail. However, we are puzzled that the Whig, which prominently published accusations against the deputies, has not published the fact that the charges  were dropped and the civil case dismissed, according to our search of their online archives.

   If the press is quick to accuse, it must be just as quick to publish the exoneration and do so just as prominently as the original charge. To do otherwise is unfair both to the accused and to the news organization’s readers .

    In southern Cecil County, Deputy Passwaters is well known and highly respected for his service to the community. Many residents will welcome his return to patrolling their neighborhoods.

Demmler Bankrolls Mullin: Commissioner Payback Time?

October 30, 2008

    We’re BAACK– Sorry to have taken a hiatus, but we were sick and tired,  and mostly sick. So since we don’t get paid for this,  it has taken us a while to report and write what our local “newspaper” with full time paid employees hasn’t: new campaign finance reports– filed 10/24/08– for local County Commissioner candidates. First, we’ll look at the 1st District Commissioner race between Republican Jim Mullin and Democrat Pamela H. Bailey.

     There’s not much to report on Pamela Bailey, who has not filed a detailed campaign finance report.  According to Cecil County election officials, she filed an affadavit saying she would not be raising or spending over $1,000, so she does not have to file a full report either on paper locally or online with the state Board of Elections.  In that case, we are surprised to see so many printed yard signs around her home base of Earleville. As she has stated to the public, she already has a full-time job as a secretary at the School of Technology and two part-time jobs. So who knows how much time she has to spare for fundraising, campaigning or actually serving as a County Commissioner.

    Without a serious opponent, Republican Jim Mullin of Earleville seems to be a shoo-in in the 1st District. But looking at his campaign finances, there is a very interesting angle: current County Commissioner Rebecca Demmler is his biggest donor. Could it be payback for the financial support Mullin gave her when she was running for County Commissioner in the last local election? Or could it be “pay it forward,” with Demmler donating to a pal she expects will vote along with her as a Commissioner?

    In his pre-general election report, Mullin states he has raised a total of $10,294 in individual, party committee and Political Action Committee donations.  He has also made a personal loan to his campaign of $8,550, which is counted as a separate line item in addition to the $10,294 in donations.

    But the telling category is the sub-set of individual and business donors, amounting to $7,094. Of that figure, current County Commissioner Rebecca Demmler made an outright donation of $2,000 on 5/03/08 and $500 on 9/15/08, for a total of $2,500– or nearly a third of all donations. Mullin also does not report individual identities of purchasers of tickets to his fundraisers– listing instead, a “lump sum” of receipts from two campaign fundraisers, amounting to a total of $1,429. So there is no way of telling whose other donations might be included under this anonymous category.

    Mullin also received a $1,000 Political Action Committee (PAC) donation from the Cecil County Lodge #2, Fraternal Order of Police in Elkton, on 9/25/08. But drilling down in his expenditures, you find he made a “transfer” of funds  of $280 out of his campaign treasury previously, on 7/24/08, to the same FOP lodge, “including ticket purchases.” So the net FOP cash into the Mullin campaign amounts to $720. The ‘transfer’ from Mullin to the FOP occurred before the FOP donation to him.

    Mullin also received $2,200 from the county’s Republican Central Committee. (Funny, but we didn’t see a Mullin donation to fellow Republican Robert Hodge, who chairs the GOP central committee and is running in the 5th Commissioner district, beyond a puny $25 fundraiser ticket.)

   It is also telling who hasn’t yet donated to Mullin’s campaign. No members of the local Republican state legislative delegation whose districts coincide with Mullin’s local turf–Del. Michael Smigiel, Del. Dick Sossi or Mr. Moneybags State Sen. E.J. Pipkin– have donated to Mullin. That is probably because they know a sure thing when they see it and are saving their cash for their own  re-election efforts, or other Republican candidates with more contested campaigns this year.

   But we are struck by Commissioner Demmler’s investment of such a large amount in the sure-thing candidacy of Mullin.  Both Demmler and Mullin are Republicans, but more than party loyalty is at work here, as we will document subsequently. (Demmler has made a hiccup $50 ticket purchases donation to fellow Republican Robert Hodge, running in the 5th District Commissioner race, while her husband has donated lots more to 5th District Democratic opponent Sharon Weygand and he also made a donation to write-in candidate Tom McWilliams in that 5th District contest. More on that in our next posting.)

Whig Wakes Up (Sort of…)

September 30, 2008

    It is long overdue, but the Cecil Whig is finally waking up to the fact that it has online competition from local news bloggers that have frequently written about issues that the Whig either did not cover at all or did not publish in print or put online until a day or more later.

   In the past few days, the Whig is starting to post, by mid-afternoon, an online summary of the stories its reporters are working on for the next day’s print edition.  The Whig is also being more pro-active about posting online Associated Press items throughout the day. That’s not original reporting on the Whig’s part, but at least the updates give an impression of timeliness, even though one could easily obtain the same news from a constantly updated website like www.cnn.com

  And, it is a measure of the Whig’s sudden, and belated, recognition of the increasing online competition in the current news/online marketplace, that they are starting to post news articles online before the next day’s print publication.

   An important example– although, in fact, a rather slow posting in the “news now” world of the Internet– is the Whig article, written by editor Terry Peddicord, on a candidate’s forum in Rising Sun. It happened on Monday, and he didn’t write it online until mid-day Tuesday. But it would appear that the print/ink on paper version won’t make it into the newspaper until Wednesday.

   Better late than never. And anything that this, and other news blogs in the county, are doing to wake up the Whig is a good thing.

Gloom, But Not Doom, in Cecil Housing Market

September 30, 2008

   It was nice to see the Whig write about housing foreclosures in Cecil County in Tuesday’s editions, focusing on a counselor who is working with families and their mortgage lenders to find solutions. We’ve been hearing about the foreclosure “crisis” nationally for quite some time so it was overdue for the Whig to write about the local scene. But there is more to the housing picture in Cecil County.

    A local Realtor, Megan McGonigal, has been posting monthly information and analysis of Cecil County home sale trends and a look at the data shows all is not doom for the housing market here. In fact, the length of time for the buying market to “absorb” all the homes available for sale has improved since February.  And in July, the average days on the market before a house sold was 166 days, up just 19 days from the 147 days it took to sell homes in July, 2007.  You can read her report here:


    There is a wealth of data about Cecil County houses that are in pre-foreclosure status (papers filed but not yet taken over) and bank-owned houses on the Realty Trac website. Most recent stats for Cecil are 53 houses in pre-foreclosure and 31 bank-owned homes.

  Cecil County has the highest numbers for the Eastern Shore but is well below the figures for counties on the Western Shore. In August, new foreclosure filings were 36 in Cecil County, in comparison with 930 for Prince George’s County– the highest in the state– and 15 in Caroline County, the lowest.  Statewide, there were 30,661 new foreclosure filings since the beginning of the year.

   You can see a list with street names, but not actual house numbers, of Cecil County properties in pre-foreclosure or bank ownership. Click on the tabs at the top of the heading to look at pre-foreclosure, bank-owned, etc. The link is here:


County Commissioner Races

September 17, 2008

Things are starting to heat up, or at least show some signs of life, in the two contested Cecil County Commissioner races on the ballot in November. The signs are going up, the websites are being ramped up and the fundraisers are fast and furious.

District 5: (to replace the retiring Mark Guns)–

Republican nominee Robert Hodge has debuted a new website at http://www.hodge2008.com It is a lot more user-friendly that the earlier incarnation and has updated information. There are lots of photos and a slide show of the Hodge campaign in action, including a visit to our neck of the woods at the Hack’s Point fireman’s carnival. Glad to see attention being paid to us forgotten south county folks. Hodge will be hosting a campaign fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 28 from 3-6 p.m. at Uncle Bob’s Western Corral. Tickets are $25 a person and kids under 12 are free. Check out the website for contact information.

Democratic nominee Sharon Weygand has been sign-waving at Routes 40 and 213 in Elkton to greet voters, but our sourpuss friends at the Cecil Whig whined in a column by David Healey that the signs were too small. Wednesday’s Whig has a good response letter from the Cecil Democrats. Weygand told an obscure state political blogger recently that she has $3,000 cash on hand and will have a fundraiser in October. (We haven’t gotten up to Elkton yet to check out the financial disclosure statements on all the candidates, but we will as the season progresses.)  Weygand was also in attendance at Tuesday night’s county commissioners’ meeting in Port Deposit. She asked questions about proposed new kennel regulations, which are aimed at big commercial dog breeders. Check out her two adorable yellow Labs on her website, http://www.sharonweygand.org