The choice of Comptroller Peter Franchot, the state’s chief tax collector, as his running mate in the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial primary has had her own run-ins with state and federal tax agencies and was also chastised in August for violating ethics law in Prince George County.
Prince George’s County Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker was tapped by gubernatorial candidate Franchot Wednesday to be his lieutenant governor running mate in the 2022 Democratic primary. But hours after the announcement, Franchot’s campaign was forced to respond to questions about Anderson-Walker’s tax liens totaling more than $115,000 and an ethics report that found she hired an employee of her real estate brokerage as a council aide and voted on matters in which she had a financial interest — including votes that resulted in more than $750,000 in payments to a foundation she represented at the time.
In a statement, Franchot’s campaign manager Ben Smith acknowledged Anderson-Walker’s tax compliance issues.
“Anderson-Walker has resolved her personal liabilities, and is in full compliance with a payment plan for her shared federal liabilities with her husband,” Smith said in a statement. “Every year, hundreds of thousands of Maryland families face financial hardships. Women and persons of color have disproportionately borne that burden, and it has served as a constant block on their ability to advance their careers and stable, healthy lives. A Franchot administration will do everything in its power to end those generational barriers, and that begins with ensuring these challenges do not prevent an imminently qualified woman from serving as our state’s next Lieutenant Governor. “
Online court records show Anderson-Walker had three liens for failure to pay taxes since 2015 totaling more than $115,000. One remains active.
One 2019 judgment for the state of Maryland against Anderson-Walker totaled more than $6,500. That judgment was removed on Monday, two days before Franchot announced her as his running mate.
Still outstanding is a lien totaling $16,402.71 filed by the IRS against Anderson-Walker and her husband, Del. Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s.
Anderson-Walker had a third lien filed against her individually by the IRS in 2017 totaling more than $92,000. That judgment was satisfied in September 2020, according to online records.
Anderson-Walker and her husband issued a joint statement through the campaign:
“We are in full compliance with a payment plan, and remain committed to resolving all outstanding liabilities,” they said in the statement. “Like many Marylanders, we have endured financial struggles that are not easily and quickly resolved. Experiences like these come with consequences, and we have faced them head on by utilizing credible accountants and providing them with full and honest information. These struggles are not easy to talk about, but as public servants we are committed to transparency and accountability, in this and all matters.”
The couple did not elaborate on what caused them to fall behind in their taxes over the last six years. A spokeswoman for the campaign declined to answer follow-up questions.
The campaign also did not immediately respond to a six-page order from the Prince George’s County Ethics Commission that found she violated ethics laws.
Anderson-Walker worked as a broker for the White Rose Foundation, a charitable arm of the Prince George’s County Chapter of The Links Incorporated from 2018-2020.
According to the county ethics report, Anderson-Walker voted on two resolutions involving the White Rose Foundation. In 2019, she did not recuse herself from voting on a resolution recommending the foundation receive $350,000 in county funding for a location in Suitland. A 2020 resolution recommended more than $405,000 to the same foundation.
Anderson-Walker, who did not represent the foundation at the time of the ethics hearing, did not recuse herself from those council votes in 2019 and 2020, according to the ethics commission.
In another matter in 2019, the councilwoman voted on a resolution approving payments in lieu of taxes between the county and Suitland Seniors, LLC, and the Suitland Senior Residences at Town Square project.
The commission found that Anderson-Walker did not recuse herself nor did she file an affidavit of impartiality as required by county ethics laws.
Additionally, the councilwoman gave a $5,000 sponsorship to the White Rose Foundation, the commission found.
The commission also criticized Anderson-Walker for hiring Regina Anderson-Ford to work in her council office. Anderson-Ford worked at the same time for the councilwoman’s brokerage, Fleur De Lis, LLS, as a commissioned broker who was an independent contractor.
The commission found that the councilwoman, who was Anderson-Ford’s direct supervisor, approved the secondary employment.
“The actions and behaviors of Councilmember Walker have caused an erosion of public trust in county government,” the commission wrote in its order issued Aug. 17.
As part of that order, Anderson-Walker was ordered to cease participating in any matter involving a business in which she has a financial or employment interest. She was also ordered to end the business relationship with Anderson-Ford, who was a contractor at Fleur De Lis LLC.
The Franchot campaign issued this statement Wednesday evening:
“Councilwoman Anderson-Walker proactively disclosed her decade-long relationship with White Rose Foundation and The Links before taking office in 2018. Years later, when White Rose Foundation asked her to represent them in a purchase, she asked the County Board of Ethics for an opinion letter on the matter. When the Board of Ethics advised her that she should not engage in a financial relationship, she immediately complied, and never received compensation.
“She does not have a financial relationship with any entity that does business before Prince George’s County government. She also no longer employs her staff member outside of the office, and is in full compliance with all guidance from the Board of Ethics.”
Franchot, considered a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, has served as comptroller since 2007.
As the state’s top tax collector, he has held annual press conferences calling out the top tax scofflaws in Maryland.
On Wednesday, he praised Anderson-Walker during the announcement of his running mate.
“From education and workforce initiatives, to public safety, transportation, infrastructure and economic development, Monique has demonstrated an expansive, long-term vision to transform the lives of our communities,” Franchot said in announcing her candidacy for lieutenant governor.
Anderson-Walker has worked in real estate for nearly 20 years. In 2016, she founded Fleur de Lis LLC, a commercial real estate brokerage firm headquartered in the National Harbor.
Franchot, a Democrat from Montgomery County, is running in a crowded Democratic primary in next year’s governor’s race. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is term limited. Maryland’s primary is June 28.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.