At­tack ads fly in Mary­land race

De­laney and Hoe­ber ex­change accusations in first neg­a­tive spots to hit state air­waves

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By John Fritze john.fritze@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jfritze

Two at­tack ads are run­ning on tele­vi­sion in the con­test be­tween Demo­cratic Rep. John De­laney and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Amie Hoe­ber, the first neg­a­tive ads of the gen­eral elec­tion sea­son to hit the state’s air­waves.

A su­per PAC sup­port­ing Hoe­ber that is funded al­most en­tirely by her hus­band be­gan air­ing an ad last week crit­i­ciz­ing De­laney’s busi­ness record.

De­laney, who is run­ning for a third term rep­re­sent­ing Mary­land’s 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, quickly re­sponded with an ad paint­ing Hoe­ber as an ex­trem­ist.

The speed with which De­laney went neg­a­tive is some­thing of a sur­prise, given that he is widely con­sid­ered the fa­vorite in Novem­ber. Both can­di­dates are wealthy and have shown a will­ing­ness to in­vest large sums of cash in the con­test.

The ad­ver­tis­ing bat­tle fol­lows a for­mal com­plaint De­laney lodged against the Hoe­ber cam­paign over the su­per PAC, called Mary­land USA. De­laney ar­gues that al­low­ing Hoe­ber’s hus­band to do­nate large sums to the group vi­o­lates rules that pro­hibit a su­per PAC from co­or­di­nat­ing di­rectly with a can­di­date.

Mary­land’s 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict — which stretches from the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs of Mont­gomery County into Western Mary­land — had one of the clos­est re­sults in the na­tion in 2014. De­laney wound up win­ning re-elec­tion by fewer than 3,000 votes.

Con­ven­tional wis­dom holds that De­laney will ben­e­fit this Novem­ber from the larger turnout of Demo­cratic vot­ers ex­pected in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year. But Hoe­ber was en­dorsed by Gov. Larry Ho­gan — who polls show is among the most pop­u­lar gover­nors in the na­tion — and will have more to spend than past GOP com­peti­ti­tors for the seat.

Both ads started run­ning on tele­vi­sion in the Wash­ing­ton me­dia mar­ket last week.

De­laney’s ad claims Hoe­ber is “an ex­treme tea party par­ti­san” and “the last thing Wash­ing­ton needs.” To sup­port the as­ser­tion, his cam­paign points to a tea party schol­ar­ship din­ner Hoe­ber at­tended in May and re­marks she made dur­ing a de­bate that she wanted to re­duce the size of the De­part­ments of Agri­cul­ture and Ed­u­ca­tion.

De­laney may not agree with those po­si­tions, but re­duc­ing the size of fed­eral agen­cies is hardly a fringe is­sue for the GOP. Many Repub­li­cans have called for elim­i­nat­ing the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment en­tirely. Hoe­ber was crit­i­cized by some Repub­li­cans dur­ing the GOP pri­mary this year for not be­ing con­ser­va­tive enough.

The ad then claims Hoe­ber “will de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood,” based on an an­swer she gave dur­ing a pri­mary de­bate in March.

Asked if she would deny fed­eral fund­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion, which pro­vides health care ser­vices such as cancer screen­ings as well as abor­tions, Hoe­ber an­swered “prob­a­bly,” ac­cord­ing to re­ports at the time.

The other GOP can­di­dates were res­o­lute in their op­po­si­tion to the group.

In what is per­haps the only new crit­i­cism lev­eled by ei­ther ad, De­laney then ac­cuses Hoe­ber, a for­mer deputy un­der­sec­re­tary of the Army, of fight­ing “for a global in­crease of chem­i­cal weapons.” The cam­paign points to a 36-year-old quote Hoe­ber gave to PBS in which she ad­vo­cated build­ing up chem­i­cal weapons stock­piles as a de­ter­rence against the Soviet Union.

“Since chem­i­cal weapons are used only against coun­tries that lack the ca­pa­bil­ity them­selves, the spread of chem­i­cal weapons, in the­ory, will de­ter the use of such weapons,” Hoe­ber told a reporter in an­other quote — this one from1989 — cited by the De­laney cam­paign.

The su­per PAC ad that at­tacks De­laney is no­table in part be­cause it pro­vides no ci­ta­tions to back up its claims, leav­ing view­ers to guess at their ge­n­e­sis. Of­fi­cials with Mary­land USA did not re­spond to a re­quest to pro­vide those ci­ta­tions.

The group, funded al­most ex­clu­sively by Hoe­ber’s hus­band, re­ported spend­ing $755,940 on the ad in a Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion fil­ing on Fri­day. Hoe­ber is mar­ried to Mark Ep­stein, a se­nior vice pres­i­dent at telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant Qual­comm,

“John De­laney’s not chang­ing Wash­ing­ton,” the ad’s nar­ra­tor warns. “In busi­ness, De­laney fi­nanced com­pa­nies that fore­closed on home­own­ers and pro­vided poor care to se­niors.”

Dur­ing the 2012 Demo­cratic pri­mary, then-state Sen. Robert J. Gara­gi­ola used the same at­tack against De­laney.

De­laney founded a bank called Cap­i­talSource in 2000 and led it as CEO for nearly a decade. Cap­i­talSource, un­der De­laney’s lead­er­ship, lent money in 2009 to a sep­a­rate firm, Aeon Fi­nan­cial, that pur­chases tax liens and ini­ti­ated hundreds of fore­clo­sures, in­clud­ing many in the Bal­ti­more re­gion.

Aeon Fi­nan­cial ex­ec­u­tives have said pub­licly that Cap­i­talSource was not in­volved in ini­ti­at­ing any of the fore­clo­sures and in­de­pen­dent an­a­lysts have said it is un­fair to blame Cap­i­talSource for Aeon’s ac­tions.

Crit­i­cism over the nurs­ing homes was lev­eled against De­laney in an ad dur­ing the 2012 gen­eral elec­tion by Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Rep. Roscoe C. Bartlett. The claim cen­ters on a com­pany tem­po­rar­ily owned by Cap­i­talSource af­ter it could no longer pay its cred­i­tors in 2008 that was dinged by Medi­care in­spec­tors.

Cap­i­talSource did not man­age the nurs­ing homes.

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