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The Nose

Unaccounted For

Posted 10/4/2006

Melvin L. Stukes lost his City Council seat in the 2003 Democratic primaries, but now he's back in the saddle in Annapolis, having won September's primary with the most votes of the three winning candidates for 44th District delegate. He and the two victorious incumbents--Ruth Kirk and Keith Haynes--are in like Flynn, having no Republican opposition in November's general election. Anyone who wants to see how the political money game was played for Kirk and Haynes can go to the Maryland State Board of Elections web site to check it out. Not so with Stukes. As usual, the man's team is late in opening up its campaign books.

Of the 24 times the People for Melvin L. Stukes campaign committee has had campaign-finance reports due since it first filed electronically in 1999, it's been late nine times, costing it a total of $1,540 in fines. That's more than the amount the Stukes campaign raised to get him elected in September--at least as of mid-August, when the committee reported $1,300 in contributions since January. The campaign's cash balance, three weeks before the primary, was negative: -$1,389.29. So how dId he pull it off?

The Nose can't answer that question yet. On Sept. 1, Stukes' campaign committee was supposed to have filed a campaign-finance report that would have at least partially explained who gave how much and what the campaign spent it on. As it is, the best we can learn is that his highest donor this year was Edith Thomas, a Cherry Hill neighbor of Stukes, who gave $300, and his biggest expense was $615.30, to the Forum Caterers. It seems to the Nose that the people of his district, which sweeps west-southwest of downtown to Violetville and the Loudon Park Cemetery, deserve better than to be kept in the dark about his campaign.

Perhaps the Nose can see to it that voters are not left entirely in the dark--at least until Stukes' books are opened. The man, if not his campaign, is transparent.

Although Stukes says the elections board has sent notice of the campaign's failure to file, he insists "that is definitely not the case," though he admits that over the years "we hit a couple of snags" in the reporting process. This must be another one. In the meantime, he's willing to reveal that he lent himself about $10,000 to finance an election effort that cost a total of about $15,000 to $20,000.

"Primarily it came from a loan from me, though a few people had the capacity to write a decent check," he tells the Nose. As for who those people were, the Nose and everyone else will have to wait until after this "snag" gets straightened out.

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