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Finances in race for Baltimore sheriff get interesting

June 2, 2014

John Anderson (Maryland State Archives)

The latest campaign-finance reports filed by Democrats in the race for Baltimore sheriff show long-time incumbent John Anderson having the highest cash balance, with one challenger—Richard Parker—close behind and another—Donoven Brooks—lagging. The race’s lone Republican, David Wiggins, continues to not raise or spend any significant money, allowing him to file an affidavit of limited activity in lieu of a report. The details of the contestants’ money game reveal the contours of influence competing to secure victory in the June 24 primary, the winner of which will face Wiggins in the November general election.

At the end of the latest reporting period, which ran from Jan. 9 to May 20, Anderson had $42,021.77 cash on hand, compared to Parker’s $36,125 and Brooks’ $294.58. Parker raised the most during this period, bringing in $9,250 compared to Brooks’ $4,500.13 and Anderson’s $3,250. Anderson spent the most, $30,880.75, while Parker and Brooks made payments of $14,083 and $4,309.18, respectively.

Richard Parker (photo by Mecca Gardner)

Anderson’s top donors this period were deputy sheriff Monica Smith ($350), deputy sheriff sergeant Governor Tillery ($350), Anderson himself ($210), and Baltimore police officer Ken Dickstein ($210). His campaign’s biggest expenditures went to Northeaster Signs ($10,695.40), Vote Schleifer ($4,000), Radio One ($2,278), and Mo’s Crab & Pasta Factory ($2,150). Vote Schleifer is the campaign organization supporting Isaac Schleifer, who is running for Democratic State Central Committee in the city’s 41st District; Anderson’s report states that the money was for “printing – yard signs.”

The biggest benefactor for Parker, a U.S. Army legal specialist and president of Citizens of Pigtown Community Association, was Kevin Butler ($2,750), vice president of People’s Home Mortgage, who owns the trademark for Hammerjacks nightclub, which he plans to reopen near its former location close to M&T Bank Stadium and the under-construction Horseshoe Casino. Next up were pharmacy technician Mecca Gardner ($1,800), former president of a Glen Burnie community association Geraldine Lippman ($1,000), and Four One Four LLC ($1,000), the company that owns Kings & Diamonds strip club on The Block, which was formed by Kenneth Antonio “Bird” Jackson, the long-time manager of his family’s strip club, the Eldorado Lounge on Lombard St. in East Baltimore. Jackson is a politically active stevedore with a high-profile past in Baltimore’s drug game, and Four One Four has also donated to the campaigns of Baltimore City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young (D) and City Councilman William “Pete” Welch (D-9th District).

Donoven Brooks (Citizens for Donoven Brooks)

Parker’s big-ticket campaign payments went to Print Works ($6,423), a Canton-based printer; Raven Cook ($3,500), a pharmacy technician who was paid for “field expenses,” the report states; a video by Theodore Barksdale ($3,150), who shares the address for Jackson’s Eldorado Lounge; and Bobby’s Jazz Club ($2,000) in Pigtown, which donated its use for a Parker fundraiser.

Brooks, a Baltimore City schools police patrol supervisor, got his biggest boost from Cereta Spencer ($2,050), owner of the event-planning firm Sincerely Cereta, with other key donations coming from: Dr. J.R. Kirkland ($500),president of FBA, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm; Carvin Cook ($300), reverend at Emmanuel United Baptist Church near Mondawmin Mall; Lester Buster ($150), president of the Waxter Center Advisory Council; and Arthur W. Lambert ($150), a local insurance-company owner. His campaign’s spending was focused on paying for campaign materials produced by Lord Industries ($805.60) in Westminster, Ellis Designs ($669) in Charles Village, Precision Signz ($645) of Iowa, and Pigtown’s Digital Printing and Graphics ($398.56).

In other news relevant to the race, two federal lawsuits naming Anderson as a defendant, both contending wrongdoing at the sheriff’s office, have shown some movement. A long-fought legal battle over allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation brought by former deputy sheriff Juanita Gaines was dismissed by U.S. District judge James Bredar in April. On May 29, Anderson’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss a free-speech retaliation lawsuit brought last year by Deborah Claridy, a former deputy sheriff who ran unsuccessfully against him the 2010 elections. The status of Claridy’s lawsuit is unclear, since she currently does not have a lawyer fighting it on her behalf; the one who filed the case, former Baltimore City Solicitor Neal Janey, withdrew in early May after consenting to be put on inactive status, by order of the Maryland Court of Appeals.