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Request for reconsideration of public contribution disbursement denied in Howard County Department of Finance letter to Citizens Election Fund Commission


Back on January 11 “Citizens Election Fund Commission Calls on Howard County to Reconsider Citizens Election Fund Disbursement Request”. Read here

On January 18, the Howard County Department of Finance sent the following letter to the CEF Commission in response to this request:

Mrs Geckle,

Thank you for your letter dated January 11, 2022 requesting reconsideration of the decision not to make public contributions from the Citizens Election Fund (CEF) to the Deb Jung Reelection Committee at this time.


As Chief Financial Officer, I have a fiduciary duty to administer all government programs and functions of our department in accordance with the laws set forth in the Howard County Code. Despite the frustration that some have expressed to our office and the statements related to the perceived intent of the legislation, as department head, I am obligated to implement the law as written.

Howard County Code Section 10.306(a)(3)(i) states that “contestation of an election shall be determined on the first Tuesday in August preceding the election.” In addition, Section 10.306(a)(3)(ii) states that “the Director shall not make a public contribution to a certified candidate in an election in which the candidate is the only person to have filed a certificate application for this post. “Based on my interpretation of these two Howard County code provisions, I am currently unable to disburse CEF public contributions for the primary election because the first Tuesday in August preceding the election has passed. and at that time no race was contested.

In your role as Chair of the Citizens Electoral Fund Committee, you have been aware of this issue and the limitations it places on the administration of the CEF Director of Finance since at least October 19, 2021, when you requested legislation to modify Code Section 10.306(a)(3). In your October 19, 2021 letter, you noted that Section 10.306(a)(3) “provides that the CFO may not make a public contribution to a candidate unless it is a a contested election,” and further explained that “as written, there could be no contested election for the Council/Executive primary, which is scheduled to take place on June 28, 2022.” You also indicated a sense of urgency for address the issue, stating that Section 10.306(a)(3) “requires immediate correction in order to successfully implement the Citizens’ Election Fund program.”

In addition, Council Member Deb Jung, whose Deb Jung Re-election Committee subsequently requested a disbursement of public contributions from the Citizens’ Election Fund, was aware of the limitations placed on the timing of the disbursement of funds set out in Section 10.306(a)(3) since at least October 30, 2021. In an email sent to my office on October 30, 2021, Councilor Jung acknowledges receipt of the October 19, 2021 letter from the CEF Committee, stating “Thank you for discovered the error in the legislation that would prevent applicants from accessing CEF funds after declaring that they will use CEF. Council member Jung also identifies the need for legislation for public contributions to be disbursed by the CFO by the first Tuesday in August preceding the election, asking “would you like me to introduce legislation to resolve this problem? Would this be considered a conflict of interest since I declared myself a CEF candidate?”

While I appreciate the spirit of your request and your interest in the successful implementation of the CEF program, I cannot reverse my decision to withhold public contributions to Deb Jung’s re-election committee at this time. Making a disbursement at this time would violate Howard County Code Section 10.306(a)(3), as you and Councilman Jung previously noted. To reverse my decision would violate my fiduciary duty to uphold the laws of Howard County as written.

I am aware that Council Member Yungmann filed CB6-2022 seeking to amend the Howard County Code by removing Section 10.306(a)(3)(i) in its entirety, and that this legislation is currently in effect. study by the county council. Any effort to regulate when public contributions can be disbursed from the CEF, as currently set out in the Code, should be done through the legislative process. If CB6-2022 becomes law and the code governing CEF is changed, I will administer the CEF program in accordance with the law and disburse the CEF public contribution as soon as I am legally authorized.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Truly,

Rafiu O. Ighile
Finance director


See the PDF version of the letter here: Response to Commission letter CEF 01112022

A significant issue noted above in the letter:

“Furthermore, Board Member Deb Jung, whose Deb Jung Re-election Committee subsequently requested a disbursement of public contributions from the Citizens’ Election Fund, was mindful of the limitations placed upon the disbursement of funds… “

Here is the October 30 email mentioned above in the letter and the previous email describing the issue:

It makes you wonder why none of the elected officials (especially the two who plan to use the CEF this election cycle) ever fixed this problem with the legislation last fall/winter.

Be sure to check out this summary of the situation before this letter:

Howard County Citizens Election Fund Update January 18

Scott E.