Dist. 17 delegate defends mailing maps to constituents -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected and updated at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

State Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons believes politics is driving an ethics complaint about his sending state Department of Transportation maps to constituents.

Simmons (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville said he obtained the maps from the state and paid for envelopes and postage to send them, something he’s done throughout his 12 years in the General Assembly.

The state Department of Transportation prints the maps and makes them available to legislators who ask for them, according to Simmons.

“This is apparently the beginning of the political season,” he said.

Gaithersburg resident Dan Campos, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in the 2010 District 17 House of Delegates race, sent a complaint on Oct. 13 to a co-counsel for the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

He said he’s since changed his party affiliation to Democrat, and has no plans to run again for any political office.

Campos complained that Simmons was sending residents maps with his name, title, district office telephone number and House email address, using state government materials to promote his political career.

Campos said he’s gotten a letter saying his complaint would be considered at a future ethics committee meeting, which hasn’t been scheduled.

Deadra Daly, an ethics counsel for the General Assembly, said Thursday that she wasn’t able to comment on whether a complaint had been received.

Simmons said he could understand the complaint if he were directing the state to print the maps so he could use them, but he didn’t do that.

He said he hands maps out when he goes canvassing door-to-door or at various events. “I see nothing wrong with it,” he said Thursday.

Simmons said he often spends his own money on various constituent services, such as a separate phone line and a legal research database. He estimated he’s spent about $75,000 during his legislative career.

In an email on Friday morning, Simmons wrote that he spent $603.95 in postage and $1,300 for special window envelopes — all of it his own money.

Campos said the complaint wasn’t politically motivated, and candidates should be free to send out whatever information they like.

“Just not courtesy of the taxpayers,” Campos said.

Simmons said he’s considering a run for the state Senate, and is “inching toward” announcing whether he’ll run for the Senate or for re-election to his House seat.

The District 17 Senate seat currently is held by Jennie M. Forehand (D), who said this month that she is “seriously thinking” of running again.

As of Thursday, the only delegate candidate who had filed in District 17 for the 2014 election was Gaithersburg Democrat Andrew Platt.


An earlier version of this story and headline incorrectly described how Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons obtained the maps.