Free speech or sleazy politics? More on campaign fundraising

WASHINGTON – In Maryland, timing is everything when it comes to campaign fundraising. The state’s elected officials cannot take your money in the form of a campaign contribution while they make laws in the 90-day General Assembly session. But is that constitutional?

“The Supreme Court has said the giving of money and the receiving of money in a campaign is free speech,” says Maryland Senator and constitutional law professor Jamie Raskin. He wonders aloud whether Maryland’s law banning fundraising while lawmakers are in session is actually constitutional.

Maryland lawmakers running for office have been scrambling to raise big bucks before Wednesday when they go back to work and the fundraising faucet is turned off, with some exceptions.

The state Board of Elections will let Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s running mate in the governor’s race keep raising money. That’s because lieutenant governor candidate Ken Ulman isn’t a state official; he’s the Howard County Executive.

This gets an eyeroll from Del. Jolene Ivey, who is in the governor’s race too as the running mate on Attorney General Doug Gansler’s ticket. She makes a face when she mentions how the Brown-Ulman campaign has urged supporters to hurry up and donate because once the lawmaking session starts they won’t be able to then.

“Oh, please … you know that’s not true! You’re planning to raise the money throughout the 90 days and continue to take money from special interests during the time we’re passing laws that affect them,” she says.

Brown has said the board of elections ruling is clear, and that his campaign will abide by the directive that Ulman may not coordinate his fundraising with Brown during the 90-day session that starts Wednesday, Jan. 8.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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