ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Democratic Party has filed another complaint with the state Board of Elections against Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign, alleging that entities sharing the same address gave donations over the $6,000 legal limit allowed in an election cycle.
The complaint filed on Thursday alleges that Hogan took contributions totaling more than $500,000 during the 2018 election cycle from a number of “suspicious LLCs.”
State party officials deemed the entities as questionable because they have similar names and the same addresses, appear to have similar business affiliations or contributed on the same date as the other LLCs connected to the addresses.
In June, the party asked the state election board to investigate whether nearly 100 businesses and individuals, including several current and former members of the University of Maryland Medical System’s board, exceeded the $6,000 legal limit for an election cycle.
“I would consider it a pattern” of campaign violations, said Ben Smith, executive director of the party.
Chris Ashby, a lawyer for Hogan’s campaign, called the latest complaint a “media stunt” and said he will call on the Board of Elections to dismiss it.
“There is zero legal basis for this complaint,” Ashby said in a statement. “The Hogan campaign fully complied with the requirements of Maryland law.”
Democratic Party officials alleged the campaign improperly received more than $200,000 from nine groups of potentially affiliated companies after those companies had reached the $6,000 individual donation limit.
David Landow, a partner with Landow & Company Management Inc., one of the companies listed by Democrats to support the complaint, said he was unaware of the allegations but had been contacted by state investigators about past donations.
Landow said he received a subpoena from the state prosecutors’ office in February 2018 requesting information about his nine business entities. He said not all of the entities contributed to Hogan’s campaign. According to the information that the party released, six of Landow’s entities donated $21,000 to Hogan in 2015.
Landow said the subpoena did not say why prosecutors wanted the information but, he said, his attorney told him that “it was related to Governor Hogan’s campaign.”
Landow said his donations did not violate state law.
“I was told by our attorney that everything was done properly, and they were satisfied and there was no further question of us about anything,” he said. “He said they don’t want additional information, nothing more for us to do.”
Ashby said he was not aware of any investigation of Hogan donors.
Under Maryland law, any liability for exceeding the campaign limit falls on the donor, not the campaign that receives the money.
The Democrats also cited lobbyist Gerard Evans as having given $7,500 during the election cycle through multiple entities that, the party alleged, were not materially different.
Evans said he wouldn’t trust the Democratic Party’s accounting.
“We have different entities that we give from,” Evans said, noting that some are personal donations. “I’d be surprised if there was an overage.”
Rob Ruff, the owner of Ruff Roofers, a Baltimore-based company, said he was surprised to learn that his company was included in the Democrats list. Ruff Roofers and Ruff Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. have the same address and are listed as donating a combined total of $10,000 in 2018.
Ruff said he owns one company, and his brother owns the other. Checks were sent from each company, he said.
“My own party is investigating me,” Ruff said, with a chuckle. “We’re Democrats, but we support Hogan.”