Nearly $100,000 appears to be missing in action when it comes to one of the last two transfers of cash sent by former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith’s campaign committee to his Baltimore County Victory Slate.
When he gave up running for elected office in late 2014, the former judge, transportation secretary, Baltimore County politician and former chief of strategic alliances for recently convicted Mayor Catherine Pugh, dropped roughly $460,000 into the slate campaign, a perfectly legal slush fund used by politicians to move around large sums of cash without the $6,000 donation limit set for individuals and companies.
But less than two weeks before closing the “Friends of Jim Smith” campaign committee for good – in early 2015 – Smith’s committee emptied its coffer to its final zero-balance, this time transferring a few thousand dollars to a Frederick County politician and the lion’s share – $97,664.97 – to the slate.
The problem? The Gunpowder Gazette has found that while the money to the slate went out, campaign records do not show that it was received – not that year, nor any year thereafter.
Curiously, the transaction also only appears on page seven of a 10-page Campaign Finance Report Summary document buried deep inside the belly of the state’s campaign finance reporting website where other boring campaign documents can be found – and not noted anywhere else, not even in the more easily accessible campaign finance database.
The Maryland State Board of Elections found the discrepancies interesting, too, stating on Friday that the agency will be reviewing the transaction, but could not comment any further.
Attempts at reaching Smith and Smith’s at-the-time treasurer, Michael Lippenholz, were unsuccessful.