The problem is a political campaign event that is being hosted at City Hall:
The proper operation of representative government requires that public officials
and employees be independent, impartial, and responsive to the general public
whom they represent; that public office not be used to advance personal gain;
and that the public maintain a high degree of trust in their public officials
Rex S. Caldwell III, Esq.
City of Annapolis Ethics Commission
c/o Office of the City Attorney
145 Gorman Street 3rd Floor
Annapolis, MD 21401
I am writing to formally request that the City of
Annapolis Ethics Commission look into the recent actions of Alderman Sam
Shropshire as they specifically pertain to an event he is sponsoring and plans
to hold in the Council Chambers of City Hall on the evening of October 1, 2008,
as well as the e-mail sent by the Alderman to an undetermined number of
recipients inviting them to participate in this event, asking them to share it
with their friends and neighbors, and soliciting campaign
I believe that Alderman Shropshire utilized the
prestige of his office to secure a meeting space in City Hall which is otherwise
not offered or available to members of the general public. Upon receiving
this e-mail, I called City Hall and spoke with a staff member in the Mayor’s
Office and inquired about reserving either the Council Chambers or a small
conference room in City Hall for a meeting of our neighborhood association
(Fairfax Road Community Association). I was promptly told that
unfortunately no space in City Hall was available for use or rental by community
groups or individuals, and was referred to the Department of Parks and
Recreation who offered to fax me a list of locations to
I find it is highly inappropriate for a meeting
which has no relevance to City issues and is political in nature to be held in a
public building which is operated and maintained with taxpayer funds. It
is evident that this event is political in nature by not only the invitation
that Alderman Shropshire sent out, (which requests campaign contributions), but
also by the profile of the guest speaker and his foundation that was included
immediately underneath. This event has no relevance to issues affecting
our City, nor does it provide any constituent services or meet any needs related
to the residents of Ward 7 or the City of Annapolis as a whole. I
have never heard or known of any Alderman utilizing City Hall for meetings that
involved more than a small group of individual constituents. In fact,
Alderman Shropshire has held numerous community meetings prior to this, and they have all been at locations other than City Hall. Why is this one different?
I would like to further note that the above referenced
e-mail was created and authorized by “Friends of Sam”, Alderman Shropshire’s
campaign committee. It not only announces and promotes the event in
question, but also requests and tells you to whom and where to mail
contributions for his campaign. Is it ethically appropriate for the City
of Annapolis to be making In-kind campaign contributions to an Alderman or any
candidate for political office?
In concluding, I would like to
state for the record, that I am writing this letter as an Individual and
concerned taxpayer of the City of Annapolis. It does not reflect the
views, nor have any relevance to groups or committees for which I may sit or am
affiliated with within the City. As some members of your Commission are
aware, I take the ethical standards of our City very seriously, and this is not
the first issue I have brought before you. Whether this event is
ultimately held at City Hall or not, I believe the issues outlined above need to
be looked into and addressed by the Ethics Commission, as there certainly
appears to be some acts here which are not only inappropriate, but more
importantly, are un-ethical.
I thank you and the members of the
Ethics Commission in advance for your time and consideration of this matter, and
look forward to your timely response. I can be reached by phone at (443)
822-3170 or via e-mail at email@example.com with any
immediate questions you may have of me.
M. Scott Bowling
First things first. Esquire Caldwell, apparently the acting chair of the Ethics Commission, is my personal lawyer. In a ironic twist, I have attempted to bribe him to rule controversially on this issue, so that I may continue to follow this story and the popularity of this blog will soar.
There are 2 trends at work that make this transgression noteworthy. The first is a familiar theme--lack of oversight. Certainly somebody knew about this event, and certainly that it was inappropriate.
The second trend is specific to Alderman Sam: the arrogance that derives from his continued disregard of the law. You will remember that he was the only candidate to fail to file a financial report on time, only recently filing it--some 2 months late. Now he is using council chambers--and therefore taxpayer money--for what amounts to a campaign event. Without fear of condemnation, Alderman Sam sent this flyer to an untold amount of people through a mass email.
My read is that Alderman Sam has no fear of punishment because he votes with the Mayor on every issue, and therefore has her protection. Consider this: according to research by Mr. Bowling, the guest speaker at this event has apparent ties to communism, and his speech is being advertised as a lecture on "community organizing"--a clear reference to Senator Obama. Imagine how many ethics complaints would be filed if Alderman Cordle invited Sarah Palin to give a lecture in City Hall on how to organize anti-abortion rallies.