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'Tammany Hall' Then and Now

Councilman David Marks accepts fundraising help from development attorneys he once criticized for trying to stack the political deck.

Three years ago Councilman David Marks was highly critical of the fundraising efforts of development attorney David Gildea on behalf of several Baltimore County Council candidates.

Marks now seems more comfortable with what he once called "a Tammany Hall-style political machine." Enough so that Gildea is helping raise up to $4,000 per person for the Perry Hall Republican at a November event in Carney.

Not that Marks is willing to talk about it.

Gildea and Michael Paul Smith, son of former County Executive Jim Smith, were involved in raising tens of thousands of dollars for Democrats Cathy Bevins, Gordon Harden and Tom Quirk. The pair raised the money through house parties where attendees were charged $1,000 per person—at the time an unprecedented amount for a council race, much less for candidates who had never run for office before.

At the time, Marks and other community leaders said they worried that Gildea and Smith were attempting to elect councilmembers who might be friendly to their client's development proposals. Land use and zoning are primarily controlled by individual councilmembers.

In a 2009 story I wrote for the Baltimore Sun, Marks was highly critical of the involvement of the attorneys—specifically Gildea.

"The image of a Tammany Hall-style political machine, selecting candidates to run in open council districts is troubling," said Marks, who was president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association at the time.

Gildea is now part of a host committee that sent out invitations to a fundraiser for Marks that will be held in November at the .

The Towson development attorney in May was responsible for (Marks' words) that benefited clients of Gildea and his law firm. Marks was the lead sponsor of the bill.

I emailed Marks the 2009 statement and asked him to reconcile the 2009 statement with the upcoming fundraiser.

Here is his response in full:

"The people who selected me were the voters of the 5th District from all political persuasions," Marks replied. "I ran with community support and have proven to be an independent member of this County Council, limiting development on more than 400 acres of land and authoring numerous bills that make government more open to the public."

Marks declined Monday to answer questions about whether or not the event in any way conflicted with his statement made months before he announced his candidacy for the County Council.

A day later, Marks avoided the press and at one point left a council work session through a public entrance in order to access a backdoor into the council office suite, rather than use an exit that leads directly to the offices because it meant walking past a reporter.

Marks, through an aide, declined requests to be interviewed Tuesday.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tim September 14, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Agreed.
Tim September 14, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Whether folks want to believe it or not, you do actually need money to win elections. The Supreme Court's done us no favors as a country with their ruling in Citizens Bank (and subsequent reaffirmation of it this year) but nothing's going to change this corrupt system because the people benefiting from it are conveniently the ones in power. You all remember "how it went" when David suggested to the Council that term limits be implemented earlier this year. If I recall correctly, it was tabled pretty quickly. Getting 4 of the remaining 6 of them to voluntarily limit their own power? Right, as soon as it snows here in July.
Calm down September 14, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Observations: 1. Fair game for Sears to compare before/after quotes on Marks. Marks can't duck a reporter now that he is in the show. He is accountable for past/present comments. Not that it is bad. It is part of maturation process. 2. Marks Was not courageous with rezoning. To down zone cemetaries and storm drain areas is the height of grandstanding. Bryan McIntire down zoned hundreds of acres against vehement opposition. That was courage.
Buck Harmon September 14, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Marks is currently owned by the Smith clan....sad but true.
brucesckmickley September 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM
If any of the Patch readers actually believe that any candidate running for any public office can do so on the small amounts of money gained from non partisan individuals, or community organizations,they live on a different planet than I do.The golden rule still governs..that is,"He who has the gold rules".Obviously,anyone who gives money to any candidate,regardless of amount,expects ,some sort of special consideration by the candidate at some future date.It has always been that way since the days of our Founding Fathers..An elected official is to judged by how he or she performs in the public area once elected.I think that the record of David Marks speaks well of him during his first two years in office.Before you cast arrows at him,let's see how he performs in the next two years,and the electorate will decide.
Tim September 14, 2012 at 06:46 PM
This is why folks like Buck Harmon and myself keep harping on the need for true campaign finance reform. Elections need to be much less about who's got the money, and more what have (or can) they do for the people.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT September 15, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Reminds me of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack when he handed the judge of the tournament money and said "keep it fair, keep it fair." Maybe he has evolved - go figure. Steve's comment is hilarious - but true!
moe green September 15, 2012 at 11:31 AM
the U.S. attorney should open an office in the county office bulding. easier to question all the players there.
Buck Harmon September 15, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I would love to hear David Marks take on the need for campaign finance reform...he seems to be playing on both sides of the greed driven developer fence at this point. Perhaps Bryan Sears will attend this event in search of answers. Does the press have to make a donation to be able to attend?
Bryan P. Sears September 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Buck: Typically, journalists are barred by either ethics or the rules of their employer from making donations to political candidates and their campaigns. Reporters do attend fundraisers without paying but are also generally barred from partaking in the food or drink served at the event. Candidates usually allow the press to attend because they don't eat, don't take up much space and given that everything gets reported anyway, there's no reason not to allow the press into the room. I've only been stopped from entering a fundraiser once in 15 years and that was by a councilmember who is no longer in office.
Bart September 15, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Oh, man, ........not even a crab ball?
Joe September 15, 2012 at 01:10 PM
HAHAHA ! Bryan Bryan Bryan. Some as we see here daily will dispute "facts". No matter the source. They will see "opinion" where it does not reside. They even go as far as to put words in your post that are not there. They will assume more than you post. They will assume the worst in the poster. Tragically, when even the indisputable facts are denied by the blind, no dialog is possible.
Joe September 15, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Will Obama's decisions be influenced by the hundreds of millions he gets from convicted criminal George Soros and all the many far left fringe outfits he funds? Or is he above all that?
Bryan P. Sears September 15, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Nope, Bart, Not even.
Buzz Beeler September 15, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Well stated. I'm not sure they know the address though.
Joe September 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Anyone should be able to any amount to anyone they please. ALL contributions then should be TAXED at the highest individual rate and MUST be posted on a website with the amount the name of the contributor. The tax would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars a year and could be used for any number of programs. Maybe even a program that the Pentagon follows that will assure that EVERY ONE of our military personnel's actually get a chance to vote and have their votes count.
Robert H. September 15, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Joe, political contributions are already POST TAX DOLLARS. Plus as the Supreme Court has decided in the Citizens United case political contributions are tied to freedom of speech therefore taxing it would be highly unlikely and probably deemed unconstitutional. And, this magical website you speak of where Contributors are listed, it already exists. Check out the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Buck Harmon September 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Maybe corporate donations could be forced to pay a high tax on donations as a start to campaign finance reform. Billions will be spent on negative campaign adds during this election cycle alone....that kind of money could go a long way to improve portions of the economy but will be totally wasted on idiots bashing the hell out of each other with carefully crafted lies...
Joe September 16, 2012 at 02:03 AM
You totally misconstrue my post. Taxes as usual are paid by the receiver of the good not the supplier. The taxes are paid by the politicians as a cost of doing business. Just like they tax everything you and I do! Its just another tax. And if I was speaking about as you call "this magical website" as if I am dreaming, how magic could it be if as you also say it already exists? Who's dreaming?
Michael Middleton September 16, 2012 at 03:09 AM
If the Councilman were active in appeasing developers, I could see an argument here. Instead, I've seen Marks severely limit or restrict development through zoning initiatives throughout the county, something I'm sure his opponents in the previous election would not have been so quick to accomplish. Downzoning hundreds of acres does not seem like the action one would take if one were trying to appease developers - I know a developer in my neighborhood who is not pleased at the moment as the property he owned was downzoned. For now, it's a fundraiser. I don't believe it's an about face or a sign of things to come. Hopefully it provides a fair amount of money to support his next campaign, as I'd like to see him back in office after his next election.
Buck Harmon September 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Of course, "for now it's a fund raiser". These guys see Marks as a long term politician because of the good stuff described by supporters on this particular blog. Guys like the Smith clan have grown up playing and profiting from both the real estate development and the political game...it's in their blood...we won't see, or feel the results of "payback" for years to come, but the "Marks'er" will for sure be there. Marks is the hen in the fox house with the need for this type of fund raiser...I would expect better from him.
Buck Harmon September 16, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I might also add that the Smith clan has always played an active role in the corrupt court system.
Paul Dongarra September 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Michael, do you know the log of issue number to the downzoned parcel that you are referring to? I would really like to verify your claim? I'm curious because in district one, Tom Quirk has claimed that he has downzoned 42% of the acreage before him yet all of that land was owned by the County, DNR, or MD Parks and Forest. Only a small portion was privately held by a hoa, another an individual (Both in open space easements) In all cases, none of the land was under threat from development. Briefly looking at the CZMP map and some of the parcels that were before Marks, many acres appear to be the same: county or HOA owned. As for the general consensus for the need for campaign finance reform, the way to make this happen is to elect a 5 member super majority to the council so that we can strip away the unilateral power of the councilpersons. Require their land use decisions to follow metrics that adhere to all aspects of the Baltimore County Master Plan. Only then would there be no point to developers making their bribes...oops I mean campaign contributions.
Meg O'Hare September 16, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I am so disapponted both personally and as a community leader. Taking money from Guildea and Smith is far from independent behavior. Of all of the people to accept money from, l would never have guessed that Councilman Marks would accept campaign funds Smith, Gildea, Schmidt lawyers. Smith and Guidea (and the other partner Larry Scmidt) represent the old Baltimore County way. Larry Scmidt is the other partner whose is not named as part of the fundraiser probably because he is the current Board of Education President. Mr. Schmidt was the Baltimore County Liquor Board Chair for 13 years and then a Baltimore County Zoning Commissioner and is now controlling the Board of Education. This seems like it is too inbred of a relationship with Baltimore County government. Jim Smith is also in that law practice and I would never have thought that David Marks would be associated with him politically. I do not want to see David Marks transformed by Baltimore County's "good ole boys" into a politician who strives to keep things in Baltimore County the way they were. David Marks has done some fine things for the Community of Carney. I just cannot believe he will take money from this group right in my own neighborhood at Bowman's in Carney.
Meg O'Hare September 16, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I am going to talk to Councilman David Marks to get the details on this fundraiser. He has always been truthful with me.
Steve williams September 17, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Oh thank the lord the savior of all Baltimore county will get to the bottom of all of this.Puleese don't do us any favors. Remember you were part of the robo bob regime so get off the holier than thou soapbox.While your at it why not review the $7 million mistake at Milford Mill that was on your watch. You have zero credibility.
Stark September 17, 2012 at 03:08 AM
The same David Marks you attack is the Councilman who blocked a convenience store (a High's or 7-11 I was told) from being built near the snowball stand on Joppa Road. And you know who he went against? David Gildea. So I think the Councilman is owed some thanks for that one, and the other good decisions he made in Carney. This guy is no pushover.
Buck Harmon September 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM
David Marks usually comments on threads that pertain to him....wonder why he is avoiding this one like the plague?
Buzz Beeler September 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM
One big happy family, and a wealthy one at that.
Bryan P. Sears September 17, 2012 at 07:37 PM
From today: http://towson.patch.com/blog_posts/marks-campaign-responds-to-tammany-hall-blog

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