In 2016, the Baltimore City Paper uncovered a massive scheme that went afoul of the state’s campaign finance laws, pointing out several instances of bounced checks that were from individuals or businesses that did not exist, allowing for a campaign to get around campaign finance laws to the tune of $54,000. The intent of the fraudulent scheme was to inflate the candidate’s dismal fundraising numbers ahead of the all-important January annual filing deadline, to show powerful funders and politicos that they in fact could be competitive with the front-runner.
Of course, that candidate and campaign belong to then state senator, and current disgraced Mayor Catherine Pugh. It was also uncovered during that campaign that her chief aide, Gary Brown, willfully carried out illegal campaign finance violations once again tied to her campaign. This violation pointed to Brown getting around campaign finance limits by funneling $18,000 in campaign donations through members of his immediate family. Brown was later convicted of these charges, ultimately losing the House of Delegates seat he had just gotten appointed to; though he kept his mouth shut and received a nice job within the Pugh mayoral administration.
It was later revealed that Pugh supporter, and now the Mayor’s “chief of strategic alliances”, Jim Smith – the former two-term Baltimore County Executive – had illegally distributed $100,000 to the Pugh campaign as a “loan” in the days leading up to the April 2016 Mayoral primaries – in an effort to ensure she defeated that front-runner, former Mayor Sheila Dixon. Problem was, her name was not listed on the campaign slush fund known as the Victory Fund. This illegal campaign violation garnered only a mere $3,000 civil fine for Smith, but resulted in a $178,500 a year position for him in City Hall.
It was also revealed that a Pugh-backed PAC, founded by her union supporter Alexander Sanchez – the political director of the Laborers International Union’s Mid-Atlantic union – who had donated $120,000 into the Clean Slate PAC which constantly labeled former Mayor Dixon as a crook, contrasting the two ladies as the disgraced past verse the glorious future of Baltimore. These individuals took great pleasure in labeling Ms. Dixon a liar and a thief, while proclaiming that their candidate, Senator Pugh, was the clean slate Baltimore needed for a brighter future.
That was followed by the worst election scandal in the history of Baltimore City, having had the results of a local jurisdictions election decertified for the first time in the history of the state. After dozens of voting irregularities were pointed out by a group of concerned citizens known as VOICE – Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections – who had to sue the city board of elections to force the state to intervene; the state stepped in and uncovered roughly 1,800 voting irregularities that were the icing on a cake of a primary election whose foundation was built off the image of buses of paid addicts being bussed into Early Voting polls with a chicken box, half and half and a promise of a good paying job (at a poll on Election Day) as long as they voted Pugh for Mayor (which never happened for many of those promised a job, leading to a riot at their campaign offices on Election Day). And yet, it was “so bad” that the state election director did nothing but re-certify the election results?
And after all that, it seems that it took for the recent allegations that Mayor Pugh has illegally, or at the very least unethically, made underhanded deals with multiple corporations for children’s books (that kids didn’t read even when given to them for free) that charges are finally being sought for someone whose underhanded manipulation has seemingly spanned over a decade. But all of this could have been avoided had the state prosecutor – who everyone from the Governor on down are now calling on to investigate Pugh’s mess – simply did their job three years ago and investigated the numerous allegations of election manipulation shown and proven over the months to follow.
But apparently election rigging doesn’t matter unless you do so with the approval of the democratic establishment and financial powerbrokers who wanted to ensure the city was run how and by whom they deemed fit, as guaranteed with a Pugh victory. Maybe next time, when they rig an election for their selected candidate, a picture of a character named Healthy Holly should be placed on the front of a ballot in order to get the attention of the inept politicians and negligent media – who went out of their way to turn a blind eye to the corruption that existed just three years prior?