Del. Jon S. Cardin, the leading Democratic candidate for attorney general, is seeking an injunction against a political action committee that has targeted him in television commercials and mailings.
Cardin, in a lawsuit filed Monday in the Baltimore City Circuit Court, is seeking the injunction against Marylanders for Integrity in Government after the group failed to file a required campaign finance report on Friday.
“Given that early voting already has commenced and the Primary Election is on June 24, time is of the essence and a private rights of action is necessary to protect the rights of Cardin,” H. Mark Stichel, a partner at Gohn Hankey Stichel & Berlage, wrote in the lawsuit.
Cardin is seeking an injunction against the committee to prevent it from engaging in further campaign activities until it files the required reports. The suit also seeks unspecified monetary damages as well as attorney’s fees.
The suit alleges that the political action committee committed fraud “by failing to disclose who or what entity donated money” to the committee.
Under current law, political action committees that fail to file required reports are treated the same as individual candidates. Failure to file carries a fine of $20 per day for the first six business days and then $10 per day for each business day thereafter. The total fine is capped at $250.
Those fines will increase to $1,000 per day, weekends included, or 10 percent of the total amount spent by the committee during the reporting period, whichever is greater, said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections.
“This is all about trying to help voters make their decisions,” DeMarinis said.
Marylanders for Integrity in Government was established May 14, 2014, according to the State Board of Elections.
A phone number listed for committee Chairman Anthony L. Jones and Treasurer Anne Adoryan was not in service. Emails to both were not immediately answered.
The committee in recent weeks has started a Facebook page that focuses on negative stories about Cardin. Additionally, the committee produced a campaign commercial that has run on television and is posted online as well as an anti-Cardin mailing.
The television ad focuses on Cardin’s use of a Baltimore Police Department helicopter and marine unit as part of a stunt in which he proposed to his wife. A mailing by the committee focuses on the same issue.
A second mailing focuses on Cardin missing 75 percent of votes in the committee on which he serves in the House of Delegates during the 2014 session and his filing for daily food expenses during the same session.
Independent expenditures by such committees are allowed by law. The entity is required to file reports with the state once it spends $10,000 or more. The lawsuit filed by Cardin alleges that the political action committee crossed that threshold with the television ad and mailing.
“This fraud substantially interferes with (Cardin’s) ability to hold public office due to the content of the (political action committee’s) activities,” the lawsuit stated.