The guilty plea of Steve Whalen on 5 counts of campaign finance violations proves he funneled $7500 to Councilperson Quirk and exceeded spending limits.
This should be viewed in context with promises made by the Councilperson during his 2010 campaign, a review of the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s statements of facts, the timeline of events, and his land use decisions affecting Whalen since being elected?
Only then can voters decide whether or not to believe the Councilperson’s claim that he was unaware, and not a willing participant, of the developer’s crime?
During the 2010 campaign, the Councilperson assured many, including his own treasurer, he wouldn’t take money from Steve Whalen. A Quirk supporter wrote the following regarding the Republican candidate’s return of a Whalen donation. “Apparently, now it is politically expedient to return those contributions...The timing is revealing. Call it hypocrisy, call it lying, call it what you will. It is dishonest.” Another wrote, “The Board of Elections site indicates that candidate Quirk received no contributions from Mr. Whalen.”
In late October 2010, I discovered Whalen Properties conducted several polls regarding candidate preference and the Promenade during the primary and general election. Results were shared with Quirk and another candidate preventing the required filing of a gift in kind donation. I
went to the State’s Office of the Special Prosecutor who decided the charges merited investigation. It unearthed, a Quirk campaign volunteer who stated the candidate “wanted to keep his distance,” from the developer. Although the Prosecutor concluded that the polling did happen, the developer had exploited legal loopholes preventing formal charges from being filed. It would appear both men were conducting themselves in ways to prevent the public from knowing the full extent of their relationship. The released Statements of Facts (look under the Prosecutor’s Press Release Page) support this conclusion. It states Whalen and Quirk emailed back and forth regarding Whalen’s ability to raise money for the councilperson.
On September 19, 2011, the Councilperson submitted the PUD resolution for Whalen Properties’ Southwest Physicians Pavilion. This PUD resolution was submitted approximately three weeks after Whalen funneled money to Quirk. The resolution states the site is a Transit Oriented Development (TOD). According to Smart Growth groups like Reconnecting America TOD’s are defined as mixed use developments that seek to limit the reliance on the automobile by proximity to a mass transit and tied into a tightly knit grid of streets to make it walkable/bikeable. Given that FACT that the site sits on the beltway and is 6 blocks away from a one line only bus stop, it's a fraudulent statement to suggest the project is a TOD. The PUD’s own development plan actually states there is “limited bus service.”
Quirk has also up-zoned, at Mr. Whalen’s request, a parcel of land the developer didn’t own. He has remained silent about the release of MEDCO’s Spring Grove report which outlines a mixed-use development almost identical to Whalen’s proposed Promenade and suggests the sale of about 20 acres to an “undisclosed developer.” The MEDCO report and is also referenced on page three of the Statement of facts.
After discovering oddities in Quirk’s campaign finance records, I again turned to the State’s Special Prosecutor on February the 21st, 2012. These accusations first became public with the release of Catonsville Promenot’s first video published on YouTube June 26, 2012. The Councilperson has had months to look into the charges and to review the funds delivered to him by Whalen.
If he had, he would have found three $2500 donations from individuals given to him by people who didn’t live in his district, who had no history of political giving, with one working for Whalen Properties. I’m reminded of the aforementioned Quirk supporter whose statement bears repeating, “Apparently, now it’s politically expedient to return those contributions... The timing is revealing. Call it hypocrisy, call it lying, call it what you will. It is dishonest.”
Campaign finance laws attempt to prevent individuals and corporations from manipulating our political system. The campaign finance reports they provide help informed voters to sift through statements and voting records to determine if politicians are lying or telling the truth. We are now faced with the following question: Are the presented facts purely coincidental or are they evidence of a broken and corrupt system? One thing is plainly evident. We can argue about these laws’ adequacy, but not about their necessity.
In conclusion, some conservative bloggers have been stating things like, “See we told you, the Democrats are corrupt.” On this, let me be clear. Democrats are the ones who discovered this crime and filed these complaints against Councilperson Quirk and Steve Whalen.
Many Democrats refuse to be cogs in the machine and are disappointed with the status quo involved in local politics. My wife and I are Democrats, in part, because we believe in protecting the vulnerable and disenfranchised. We believe in sticking up for the little guy. That’s exactly what we’ve done and what we’ll continue to do. I’m proud to be part of a family who hasn’t been afraid to speak truth to power and whose determination has helped bring some degree of justice to the people of our district. I’d also like to express deep gratitude to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for their integrity and hard work regarding this case.