Now that we have two candidates for Howard County Council that have announced that they plan to use the Citizens’ Election Fund in the 2022 election cycle (Deb Jung and Christiana Rigby) I thought this would be a good time to put out a little information about this fund.

Here are some items of interest:

HOWARD COUNTY ESTABLISHES A CITIZENS’ ELECTION FUND PROGRAM

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On November 8, 2016, the voters of Howard County approved an amendment to the County Charter requiring the County Council to create by ordinance a Citizens’ Election Fund system for candidates for County Council or County Executive. Section 907 of the Howard County Charter required that a Citizens’ Election Fund System be adopted. The Howard County Council stated that the goal and intent of establishing the program was to encourage greater voter participation in County elections, increase opportunities for more residents to run for office, and reduce the influence of large contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations, businesses, political action groups, and other large organizations.

A bill to establish a voluntary Citizens’ Election Fund system was introduced on April 3, 2017 in Howard County, Maryland which was ultimately enacted on July 3, 2017 with an effective date of September 2, 2017. See Howard County Code, Title 10, Subtitle 3. The Howard County Code provides that candidates who wish to receive public contributions for elections for the County Executive and County Council may apply for certification as eligible for public campaign financing.


CONTRIBUTION REQUIREMENTS

Once the public financing committee is established through MDCRIS and the publicly funded campaign account is opened with the financial institute of choice, the candidate can:

▪ Begin collecting qualifying contributions to meet the required contribution amount to become a certified candidate. No contributions made prior to filing your Notice of Intent will be considered a qualifying contribution

QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTIONS

A qualifying contribution must satisfy the following criteria:

  • An aggregate donation of at least $5.00 but no more than $250.00;
  • Contributed in support of an applicant candidate during the four-year election cycle;
  • The maximum amount of a contribution from a single resident to an applicant candidate is $250.00 during each election cycle.
  • The contributor must be a County resident;
  • Contributions must be made during the qualifying period;
  • Contributions must be acknowledged by a receipt that identifies the contributor’s name, residential address, and be signed by the contributor directly or by a digital signature.

Note: In-Kind donations do not count as qualifying contributions.

ELIGIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS

An eligible contribution must satisfy the following criteria and will not be matched by public funding:

  • An aggregate donation of $250.00 or less from an individual in support of a candidate during the election cycle;
  • Each eligible contribution must have a proof of receipt that will be submitted to the State Board;
  • The contributor does not have to be a County resident.
  • An applicant candidate may accept up to $12,000 in contributions or loans consisting of a combined total of not more than $6,000 from each of the following family members: (i) the applicant candidate; (ii) a child who is at least 18 years old; (iii) a spouse, (iv) a parent; or (v) a sibling;
  • Not all eligible contributions are qualifying.

IMPERMISSIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS

An applicant candidate must not accept the following contributions:

  • A private contribution from any group or organization, including a political action committee, a corporation, labor organization or a State or local central committee of a political party.
  • A private contribution from a sole proprietor, LLC or LLP.
  • A private contribution or contributions from an individual in an aggregate greater than $250.00 during a four (4) year election cycle.
  • A loan from anyone other than the applicant candidate, their child who is at least 18 years old, their spouse, their parent, or their sibling.
  • Anonymous contributions.

MATCHING FORMULA

The minimum contribution amount for a match is $5. Any contribution below $5 will not be matched or eligible as a qualifying contribution.

IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS

An In-Kind contribution of property, goods, or services is not eligible to receive public election matching dollars.

APPLICANT CANDIDATE AND APPLICANT CANDIDATE’S FAMILY LOANS AND CONTRIBUTIONS

An applicant candidate may accept up to $12,000 in contributions or loans consisting of not more than $6,000 from family members into the publicly funded campaign account during the four-year election cycle. Family members include the applicant candidate, a child who is at least 18 years old, a spouse, a parent, a sibling. The loan or contribution amount is not eligible for matching citizens’ election funds.

(Note: I highlighted items of significance)


There is so much more than what is noted above…my goal is to provide some basics here in the article and provide you a link to learn more (if interested).

You can read the full summary about this fund here: https://elections.maryland.gov/campaign_finance/documents/CEF%20Summary%20Guide%20Howard%20County.pdf


You can bet campaign finance reports will be a thing watched closely in Howard County this election cycle.

I will be very curious to watch which candidates take advantage of this opportunity (and which candidates do not) and will be most interested to see if this fund helps “reduce the influence of large contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations, businesses, political action groups, and other large organizations”.

Scott E

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