Paul Dongarra said he became suspicious of claims made by Quirk that Whalen had not donated to his campaign and began looking through the councilman's campaign finance reports in early 2011. The review ultimately identified three illegal donations that lead to Whalen plead guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court Jan. 3 to five counts of campaign finance violations.
"I was expecting to see donations when [Quirk] filed his report," Dongarra said during a phone interview. "I was wondering how much money Whalen was giving him and I didn't see any."
What he said he did find was donors with relationships to Whalen including:
- Diane Underwood, a personal friend of Whalen's.
- Darryl Hitt, a construction manager for Whalen Properties.
- Michele Mandel, who is Whalen's personal trainer.
The three donated a total of $7,500 that was ultimately found to have come from Whalen in what is often known as straw donations. Dongarra said he found nearly $7,000 in other donations from people related to the developer that were not part of the State Prosecutor's case.
"I see patterns of what is going on," Dongarra said, adding that he provided the information early last year.
Dongarra provided copies of emails between himself and investigators at the State Prosecutor's office.
Paul Dongarra wrote his own account of his involvement in the Whalen prosecution in a blog post.
Both Paul and Rebecca have been active in opposing the redevelopment of Spring Grove Hospital Center and the Southwest Physicians Pavilion project—both proposed by Whalen. The couple are also involved in group known as Catonsville Promenot, which has been active in criticizing councilmembers over zoning decisions and opposes Whalen's Promenade project proposed for the state hospital.
"Open space is under assault," Paul Dongarra said.
Many of Whalen's projects are in the Catonsville area. Prosecutors this week highlighted 2011 emails between the developer and Quirk in which the two mixed discussions about the physicians pavillion and Spring Grove projects with discussions about raising money for the councilman.
"I hate to use the term corruption but it appears to be the case," Dongarra said. "It appears that there's a pay to play system in Baltimore County."
Quirk, for his part, has not been happy with the continued criticisms from the Dongarras.
In a July 2012 interview, Quirk said the Dongarras "continue to engage in these petty personal attacks and I resent it."
"I think Paul Dongarra spends every day doing everything he can to attack my personal integrity and character and I've had enough of it," Quirk said last year.
State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt declined to speak about Paul Dongarra's involvement saying it was part of the investigation.
"[Dongarra] is free to speak with you if he wants," Davitt said following Whalen's plea hearing in Towson.
Ironically, Whalen said Thursday that he made the three donations totalling $7,500 through three people including a friend, an employee and his personal trainer, in an attempt to avoid the scrutiny of opponents of his Southwest Physicians Pavilion project.
Whalen said those opponents, whom he did not name, would use information on the donations "to hurt me, hurt the project, hurt [Quirk]."
Whalen said he made the decision to mask the true source of his donations was made in an emotional moment.
"I was angry and I wasn't thinking," Whalen said.
"I thought I could [make the straw donations] and no one would know," Whalen said. "That was stupid."
Dongarra said Quirk and Whalen "miss the point" when they criticize his efforts as that of a bitter political rival.
"This is not about the 2010 election," Dongarra said. "This is about justice and showing how things are done in Baltimore County."