Kristin B. Aleshire is pressing for answers about an 11th-hour robocall that attacked him before the Washington County commissioners election nearly two years ago.
Aleshire said he wants the state to enforce election laws that still haven’t been followed from that campaign season.
The robocall — which was sent to phones in Washington County on Nov. 1, 2010, the day before the election — included a line that it was authorized by the Washington County Republican Central Committee, but committee members later said that was untrue.
No one ever took credit for authorizing the call.
Because misuse of an “authority” line is a misdemeanor under Maryland law, the matter went to the state attorney general’s office in 2010, then the state prosecutor’s office, which determined there wasn’t any crime.
In his Jan. 27, 2012, filing, Aleshire asked the Maryland State Board of Elections for a new review. He contends that important issues haven’t been resolved, including:
• The robocall was something of value and, by law, was an expense or donation that must be documented on a campaign finance report, which didn’t happen.
• People who jointly plotted the robocall should have been required to register as a political committee, defined in state law as “A combination of two or more individuals that assist or attempt to assist in promoting the success or defeat of a candidate, political party, or question.”
There are penalties for violations of election law, even if they are unintentional.
Aleshire — a Democrat who lost his 2010 county commissioner re-election bid and is now running for Hagerstown City Council — asked the board of elections for a “declaratory ruling.” He submitted a binder thick with hundreds of pages of questions, laws, background of Washington County’s political players, news clippings and more. He lays out a version of what might have happened, based on what others have told him.
However, a declaratory ruling only is for the future actions of the person requesting it, not past actions by a third party, and therefore isn’t the right process for Aleshire’s complaint, said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Linda H. Lamone, Maryland’s election administrator, sent Aleshire a letter explaining that in April.
On July 24, the board of elections forwarded Aleshire’s filing to the state prosecutor’s office, which handles enforcement matters, DeMarinis said.
Aleshire said Friday that he hasn’t heard yet from the prosecutor’s office about the status of the new investigation.
The state prosecutor’s office doesn’t confirm or deny requests it receives to investigate, said James I. Cabezas, the office’s chief investigator.
Aleshire said he planned to keep his challenge private, hoping more for results than publicity. But he was not pleased that the board of elections wouldn’t review his filing and isn’t protecting the integrity of its laws, he said, so he provided a copy of his challenge with The Herald-Mail.
Even though there was no evidence of a crime, no one connected with the robocall ever publicly explained what happened.
In his filing, Aleshire highlighted four people — County Commissioners Ruth Anne Callaham and John F. Barr, state Sen. Christopher B. Shank and political consultant Corey Stottlemyer — who he says strategized for his defeat.