Campaign Finance Transactions Raise Ethical Concerns about Senator David Brinkley

       As the District 4 State Senate race heats up, the campaign of Senator David Brinkley has raised a claim that his opponent violated ethical rules by sending a letter wishing someone a “Happy Birthday”. According to the Frederick News-Post, Senator Brinkley had a supporter file an ethics claim regarding the matter.

        Having opened the door to the examination of the candidates’ ethical behavior in office and the proper use of public funds, Senator Brinkley has invited an examination of his own conduct.

        So here is an example of Senator Brinkley’s conduct that many would find far more distasteful than sending a “Happy Birthday” letter.

        As detailed below, Senator Brinkley used funds from his campaign account to provide a bonus to a staffer, Jacqueline L. Nigh with whom sources indicate he was having an extramarital affair. On the same day, this bonus was then invested by Brinkley with his investment firm on behalf of Ms. Nigh. Senator Brinkley processed this transaction through his firm and, according to sources, made a commission on the investment of what had been campaign funds.

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Here are the detailed facts:

       On December 21, 2007, Senator Brinkley used funds from his campaign account (Friends of David Brinkley) to pay Jacqueline L. Nigh $4,000.  A copy of the expenditure report from the Maryland State Board of Elections is attached below.  A copy of the Annual Employer Withholding Reconciliation Return regarding payments to Ms. Nigh from the Friends of David Brinkley is attached below.  A copy of the 2007 W-2 issued to Ms. Nigh from the Friends of David Brinkley is attached below. A copy of the 2007 Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return identifying Ms. Nigh is attached below.

  On December 21, 2007, the same date as the payment from campaign funds to Ms. Nigh, Ms. Nigh wrote a check to Pacific Life Insurance Company in the amount of $4,000.  A copy of this check is attached below. Ms. Nigh issued this check to make an investment in certain securities as a part of an account identified as “ROTH IRA”.  A copy of these transaction documents are attached below.

Senator Brinkley served as the “producer” on this investment transaction and, upon information and belief, received a commission for this transaction.  According to sources, Senator Brinkley was having an extramarital affair with Ms. Nigh during this same time period.

This transaction appears to represent the conversion of campaign funds for the benefit of Senator Brinkley and Ms. Nigh. Md. Ann. Code, State Government Art., § 15-506(a) states as follows:

      § 15-506. Use of prestige of office 

   (a) In general. — An official or employee may not intentionally use the prestige of office or public position for that official’s or employee’s private gain or that of another.

     This transaction would appear to be a clear violation of Md. Ann. Code, State Government Art., § 15-506(a) as Senator Brinkley intentionally used the prestige of his office and public position for his private gain and for the gain of Ms. Nigh. This conduct is particularly sordid given Ms. Nigh’s purported extra-marital relationship with Senator Brinkley.

      This kind of behavior is far more concerning than sending anyone, a constituent or not, a “Happy Birthday” note, even on taxpayer paid letterhead. If Senator Brinkley wants to raise the issues of ethical and moral behavior of the candidates in this race he will suffer in the comparison.

Below are the documents referred to above:

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