A Mount Airy man has asked the state ethics commission to investigate a report that Sen. David Brinkley improperly used campaign funds.
In a posting last week, the conservative blog Red Maryland suggested that Brinkley personally benefited from a $4,000 payment to one of his staffers.
The blog, which has endorsed Brinkley’s opponent in the Republican primary election, posted numerous documents to support several of its allegations.
Jason Miller, the man who submitted the complaint, said he doesn’t know how the blog came to possess the documents and added that he is not sure whether the allegations against Brinkley are well-founded.
“I thought that it was rather convincing. However, I also believe that that’s for the ethics commission to decide,” he said in a phone interview.
According to the blog post, the staffer received the $4,000 payment Dec. 21, 2007, and the same day made a financial investment processed by Brinkley through his firm. Red Maryland posted campaign finance reports listing the payment to the staffer, Jacqueline Nigh.
The blog also produced a copy of a $4,000 check written by Nigh to Pacific Life Insurance Co. and documents showing that Brinkley was her registered representative. Brinkley works as an estate and financial planner.
The blogger claims that Brinkley received a bonus for the transaction but did not provide documents supporting the assertion.
Brinkley said he has not seen the complaint or the Red Maryland article but is aware that the blog supports Delegate Michael Hough.
“I guess they’re obviously in his camp, so they’re doing his bidding,” said Brinkley, R-District 4.
He declined to comment about the allegations made in the blog post.
Hough, Brinkley’s rival for the District 4 Senate seat, said he did not give Red Maryland the information used in the article.
Miller wrote in his complaint that the transactions described by Red Maryland could violate state code that bars elected officials from using their prestige of office for private gain.
State ethics guidelines indicate that this portion of the law forbids officials from using their legislative titles for private gain or invoking their elected position when endorsing a business or product. The law also directs officials to use legislative correspondence only for official business.
Miller said he decided to forward his concerns to the Maryland State Ethics Commission because of a complaint recently filed against Hough, R-District 3B.
In that complaint, an Emmitsburg man raised concerns that Hough was using state resources to campaign in District 4. Hough has been sending out birthday notes on official state letterhead to county residents in the area he is running to represent, the Emmitsburg man said.
If the birthday notes were worth a complaint, then the blog’s claims certainly deserve a harder look, Miller argues.
At one point, Miller was running against Brinkley, but pulled out when Hough entered the race. He said he is a Hough supporter but felt comfortable that the ethics commission would take any bias out of the equation during its review.
An ethics violation could erode trust in Brinkley’s leadership, Miller said.
“As far as an ethics breach, on every level, it causes the voting public to lose faith in their elected officials,” he said.
Hough said he didn’t tell Miller to send in the complaint and that his criticism of Brinkley has focused on the senator’s voting record. However, he said the allegations in Miller’s complaint were serious.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.