CAMBRIDGE - County Council Member Libby Nagel (District 5) has been charged with electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. The single charge was filed on March 13, regarding an incident that occurred on Oct. 25, 2018.
Former County Council members Tom Bradshaw and Don Satterfield each filed a letter of complaint with the Dorchester County State's Attorney's Office on Oct. 26, alleging violations of campaign law.
The complaints were forwarded to the Office of the State Prosecutor (OSP) in Towson, Dorchester State's Attorney Bill Jones said today. "They investigate any sort of corruption, or election violations," Mr. Jones said, noting that cases such as this are not within his office's jurisdiction.
"That case was brought by the Office of the State Prosecutor," he said. "They filed through us," which is why online records mention the Dorchester agency. The OSP will prosecute the case, Mr. Jones said.
Mr. Bradshaw represented District 4. He was defeated in the primary election by Ms. Nagel. He then launched a write-in campaign, which was also unsuccessful. Mr. Satterfield represented District 1.
Oct. 25 was the first day of early voting, which was being held in the lobby of the County Office Building. On that same day, there was a meeting of the Department of Planning and Zoning's Board of Appeals in Room 110 of that building. This board otherwise has no connection to the case.
A crowd including Mr. Satterfield was in the hallway of the County Building after the Board of Appeals meeting. He was reached for comment today. Mr. Satterfield said he was limited in how much he could say, advice he received during an interview with the OSP three and a half weeks ago.
He did confirm some details, though. "Yes, I was in the hallway, I was the one who generated the letter, and I hope something serious happens because of this," he said. Asked to confirm that he saw Ms. Nagel in the hall passing out campaign material, Mr. Satterfield said, "She was."
"Libby was standing in the hallway passing out papers," Mr. Bradshaw said, "of who was donating to our campaign." This information is public record and is available online.
The website of the National Association of Secretaries of State says,
"Maryland law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of the entrance or exit to a polling place on Election Day. The 100-foot 'No Electioneering' zone is measured from the entrance/exit of the building closest to the room in which voting actually takes place. No electioneering means that no canvassing, electioneering, campaigning, or posting of any campaign material is permitted within the zone. 'Posting of any campaign material' includes wearing clothing shirt, hat, sticker, or button that indicates support of or opposition to any candidate, question, or political party if worn by any person allowed to remain in the ‘No Electioneering' zone. However, electioneering does not apply to a voter going to vote in his or her polling place. A person on his or her way to vote may wear campaign paraphernalia or carry campaign literature if the voter leaves the zone promptly after voting. (Maryland State Board of Elections Summary Guide to Candidacy and Campaign Finance Laws Chapter 12.6; Md. Ann. Code Art. 33, § 16-206 ) .
All candidates for public office receive a packet of information and requirements, including the rules for campaigning.
The trial date has been set for June 10 at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 1 of Dorchester District Court. Ms. Nagel did not address this issue during the most recent meeting of the County Council on March 19, and has not responded to the Banner's request for comment.
The Banner has also reached out to the Office of the State Prosecutor and is waiting for further information.