OCEAN CITY — Ed Price, challenger for mayor in next week’s municipal election, on Thursday accused his opponent, incumbent Mayor Jay Gillian, of accepting an illegal contribution of $10,000 to his campaign.
Price said Gillian is in violation of state law with the April 22 acceptance of the donation from his father, former Mayor Roy Gillian.
Contributions from individuals are limited to $2,600 per election. A candidate may accept contributions in unlimited amounts from immediate family members residing in his household, but those family members must first form a corporation, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission. The elder Gillian is a retiree living in Florida.
Gillian said he made a mistake in reporting the donation as a contribution rather than a loan, and that he had contacted ELEC and amended his report. He also said he had written a check for the full amount to repay his father.
Joseph Donohue, deputy director of ELEC, said the amended report would not be available until 10 a.m. Friday.
“People do it all the time,” Donohue said of amending reports. “It’s still a violation, but one of the things we weigh, that we take into consideration, is mitigation on the part of the candidate. If it’s just a mistake, we’re not going to whack someone with a big fine.”
The maximum fine for such a violation is $7,600. Donohue said he could not comment on the specific situation in Ocean City, but “there’s a chance there would be a violation and there might be a penalty.”
The amount in excess of the allowable $2,600 individual contribution must be returned within 48 hours of receipt, according to law. In this case, Gillian would have had to return $7,400 to his father by April 24.
Thursday afternoon, Price broached the subject of the violation within the first 15 minutes during his guest spot on the Bob Burns program, which aired on WOND AM 1400.
“ELEC has acknowledged it’s a problem and not a valid contribution,” Price said on air, “but will not deal with it until after the election. It does not jibe with my platform concept of fairness. It’s unfortunate for me because I’d love an extra $10,000.”
ELEC 11-day pre-election reports, released Thursday, show Gillian has spent $24,000 in his bid for re-election. Price, in his first run for the mayor’s office, has spent $9,000.
In addition to a mayor, voters will elect three councilmen at-large. Three of the candidates – challengers Michael Hyson and Eric Sauder and incumbent Michael Allegretto – have said they will spend less than $4,500. Challenger Pete Madden has reported more than $10,000 in contributions and incumbent Keith Hartzell has reported almost $17,000 in contributions in his race for a third four-year term on council.
Post-election reports for the May 13 election will be released June 9.
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