Montgomery Republican candidates propose campaign finance alternative -- Gazette.Net


Two Republican candidates in Montgomery County have proposed a plan to provide money for candidates to mail information to voters.

The plan, proposed by county executive candidate Jim Shalleck and at-large County Council candidate Shelly Skolnick, have billed their plan as an alternative to one proposed by Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, that would provide public financing for campaigns.

Andrews is seeking the Democratic nomination for county executive against current County Executive Isiah Leggett and former county executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Shalleck’s and Skolnick’s plan would provide county funds for postage for candidates to mail campaign literature to registered voters.

The money would be available to county executive candidates who agree to limit their campaign spending to $300,000, at-large council candidates who agree to a $200,000 spending limit and district council candidates who agree to a $100,000 limit.

That plan would limit candidates who accept the county financing to donations of $150 or less from voters registered in Montgomery County, but wouldn’t place an overall cap on the amount of money that could be raised or spent.

Andrews’ plan is being co-sponsored by the other eight council members and would cap public financing at $750,000 for executive candidates, $250,000 for at-large candidates and $125,000 for district council candidates.

At-large council candidates must run countywide, while district candidates only run in one of the county’s five districts.

Shalleck, a Montgomery Village attorney, said he and Skolnick’s plan would provide a more affordable and better way of reaching voters by providing direct access through the mail.

Most campaigns spend a lot of money on things that don’t directly benefit voters, such as consultants and office space, Shalleck said.

“We just look at ours as money better spent to guarantee that the voter gets the information from the candidate,” Shalleck said.

Skolnick, an attorney from Silver Spring, said the money for mailings could help candidates send out pamphlets, voter guides or other means to send what he hopes will be substantive information to voters.

While the public money could be used for mailings, each candidate would have to pay to have their materials printed, Skolnick said.

Andrews could not be reached for comment Monday.