Delegate questions series of negative ads in Prince George’s race for home

Photo by Angela Breck.

For the first time in more than a decade, two longtime Prince George’s elected officials aren’t on the ballot – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy spurring candidates and trying to influence the elections in their legislative constituency.

A series of text messages this week attacked Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D), who is not seeking re-election in Bowie-based District 23, and has tried to discourage voters from backing her favorite candidates.

“Last year, Geraldine Valentino Smith voted with Republicans to retain more budget power in the governor’s office, rather than doling it out to the General Assembly,” a message from the Twenty-Third District team said. , of which Valentino-Smith was once a part. of.

“…Now she’s leaving Annapolis in disgrace and backing other candidates like Adrian Boafo, another budget awkward, to replace her,” the post continued. He was referring to Boafo, a Bowie City Councilman and one of 10 Democrats seeking three House seats in District 23.

The message and at least one similar one were delivered during early voting – and when candidates from rival campaigns were all gathered in the same voting center. Several candidates on the District 23 slate denied knowing or authorizing the messages before they were sent, Boafo and Valentino-Smith said they were told.

In light of the denials, Valentino-Smith sent a letter to the attorney general’s office on Friday and asked the office to review the messages to determine if there was unauthorized use of the campaign committee’s line of authority. .

“If these messages were not authorized by the appropriate people on the state-registered campaign committee, it could be considered a serious violation of fair and transparent election campaigning and constitute election tampering,” he said. -she writes.

The list president and treasurer list the same phone number on State Board of Elections documents. This phone number has always led to a busy signal from Thursday to Saturday.

The list, created in 2011, has had dozens of members during its existence. Candidate members for the General Assembly did not return voicemails.

More recently, the wealth of the slate is due to former Senator Douglas JJ Peters (D), who primarily funded the committee this cycle. When Peters resigned from the Maryland Senate in July 2021, he donated $160,000 of the remaining $262,565 in his slate campaign bank account. He also gave $6,000 to Valentino-Smith and smaller sums to other colleagues.

Slate officers previously worked as consultants for Peters’ campaign.

Through one of his companies, The Peters Group, the former senator shared his endorsements of candidates on the slate this summer. Although he is now a board member of the University System of Maryland, Peters’ messages are signed by “Senator Doug Peters”.

Boafo is not among those approved by the slate. The slate currently consists of Sen. Ron Watson (D), who was elevated from the House to the Senate following the resignation of Peters, Del. Marvin Holmes (D), the only incumbent in the House primary of 10 candidates, and two political newcomers, Kym Taylor and Jocelyne Irene Collins.

Boafo, in an interview, said “the negative ads in 23 didn’t really work”. His job by Tuesday, Boafo said, is “to make sure we get the coalition we’ve built across the finish line.”

Peters did not return a call seeking comment on his recent mentions or the slate text messages.

Reached by phone, Valentino-Smith said: “Negative ads are part of our political business. But tampering with elections through the misuse of a line of authority is a new low for Maryland politics, if at all.

Similar-worded text messages attacking Valentino-Smith and a candidate she endorsed for county council, Michael Esteve, were sent this week by the developer-funded Jobs 1st super PAC.

This PAC paid Peters’ daughter, Natalie, $5,000 for campaign materials earlier this month.

Peters’ political career began in 1998, when he was elected to Bowie City Council for four years. He then spent four years on Prince George’s County Council before being elected to the Senate in 2006.

Valentino-Smith served on Bowie City Council from 2007 to 2010 before being elected to the House of Delegates. Holmes was elected to the House in 2002, but nearly everyone seeking a House seat in District 23 is new to politics.

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