County Executive Steuart Pittman Introduces Campaign Finance Reform
(Annapolis, MD - February 5, 2019) Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced the introduction of state legislation to reform campaign finance rules in Anne Arundel County. Senate Bill 710 was introduced at the request of the county executive and will prohibit campaign donations to county council and county executive candidates by developers with applications pending before the county.
“As I traveled across the county last year, people told me they felt like the deck was stacked against them on land use issues,” said Pittman. “I want to restore people’s trust in the public process. In my administration, we want land use decisions to be fair, open, and transparent. I believe if you have a zoning application open before the county, then you should keep your checkbook closed.”
Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to counter the influence of land developers on rezoning applications and other important land use decisions. They also say this legislation protects developers, public officials, and communities from the “pay-to-play” practices that lead to bad public policy and mistrust in government.
“Land use decisions are one of the most important responsibilities of county government, and they are particularly vulnerable to developer interests,” said Damon Effingham, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “Citizens deserve to know that they aren’t being outgunned by special interests in these important decisions that affect their communities.”
Along with the introduction of the bill, County Executive Pittman announced that he will form a task force to explore public financing options and other campaign reforms for the county. Jennifer Bevan-Dangel will serve as chair of the task force. Ms. Bevan-Dangel is an Anne Arundel resident who helped establish the first public financing programs in Montgomery and Howard counties.
"We have seen the power of these programs in last year's election in Montgomery County, and their broad support from voters across Maryland," said Bevan-Dangel. "I am excited to lead the effort to bring fair elections to my home county."
SB710 is a “local bill” that will be scheduled for a hearing before the county delegation in the coming weeks. The delegation meets on Fridays at 8:30 AM.