The is my fourth article in a series of articles sharing various testimony and statements from the Howard County Council Public Hearing meeting on January 18th about CB 6-22. This legislation would correct the technical error with the Citizens’ Election Fund and allow dispersement of funds now to candidates that have qualified for the “tax payer funded program”.
Councilmember Opel Jones made some interesting comments on January 18th during the Public Hearing that made me (and I believe others) think he is not on board with correcting the CEF at this time with the CB 6-22 legislation.
Here are some clips from January 18th:
- Councilmember Opel Jones (District 2)
- Emily Scarr, Director of Maryland Public Interest Research Group (Maryland PIRG)
- Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland
A few things stand out to me from these clips:
Councilmember Opel Jones: “…I guess we have different ideas of what fixing it (Citizens’ Election Fund) means…”.
That one part of what he said on January 18th tells ME all I needed to know from this elected official and what he thinks about fixing the CEF right now.
Here are some other statements from the video clip above:
Emily Scarr: “The program is designed to enable candidates to reject large and corporate contributions by providing these limited matching funds so that they can remain competitive with traditionally funded candidates and delaying those funds destroys that reality”
Joanne Antoine: “many members of the council actually supported those efforts before you were elected…and I think it’s because like many of those voters you all believed that special interest specifically developers in this case that they had too much influence over the decisions being made in the county that impacted everyone’s lives…and that this was a great alternative that allowed for women and people of color to be able to run campaigns powered by people with the money that they need to run competitive races both in the primary and in the general election”
Now let’s look a little deeper into this issue by looking at MONEY. Councilmember Jones just recently released his 2022 Annual Campaign Finance Report where he reports bringing in A LOT of money for this election cycle raising over $50,000 in the past year.
You can see the full report here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1p9V2SxN57eH230qXLnRBp0hNeksYTJgf/view?usp=sharing
Now I have not personally done a deep dive on this campaign finance report yet….but apparently others in our community have done deeper analysis of his 2022 Annual Report.
Photos from the previous tweet:
Final tweet in the thread:
See the tweet thread here: https://twitter.com/Hiruy4HoCo/status/1484741560587718664?s=20
I have not fact checked the information shared by Mr. Hadgu but I have found his analysis in the past to be pretty spot on and I thought worth sharing in this article today.
As reported yesterday on the Blog there is one other Councilmember concerned about “conflict of interest” or “Ethics” with this legislation…it seems to me that this Councilmember (Opel Jones) may have a potential conflict as the BIG MONEY candidate from the industry (Developers) that this program (Citizens’ Election Fund) was meant to combat (see comments from Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland above).
So I go back to the title of this article…”Why does Howard County Councilmember Opel Jones seem hesitant to correct the Citizens’ Election Fund?”….maybe now we all know.
Councilmembers Jones and Rigby have not made any public statements (that I have seen) in support of CB 6-22 as emergency legislation to correct this issue with the CEF right now. Until they do, I will have many more posts like this with important testimony from the community.
I highly recommend that everyone in support of “Fixing The Fund” or “Freeing The Fund” or just asking the Councilmembers to do the right thing on this issue…send your emails here:
If you want to watch the full video from the meeting on the January 18th…check it out here: https://howardcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=3177&meta_id=118837