March 30, 2023
Annapolis, US 41 F

Pittman calls for reform on developer political contributions to elected officials

Pittman at Turtle RunSteuart Pittman the Democratic nominee for Anne Arundel County Executive, announced his intention to ban campaign contributions from developers and their agents when they have applications pending before the county.
The announcement took place yesterday afternoon at Turtle Run in Churchton, Maryland, where a developer who had been referred by one county executive for criminal prosecution after clear-cutting trees in the Critical Area, bought his way back into the favor of the current county executive with campaign contributions, and was handsomely rewarded with approval to transfer development rights onto the sensitive area.
Pittman told the story of Turtle Run and cited other recent instances of pay-to-play land use decisions in Anne Arundel County to demonstrate the need for reform in the state ethics law similar to the one proposed for Baltimore County last year and implemented in Prince George’s County previously.

The plan would impact campaign contributions to both county executive and county council candidates. Similar limits exist in Frederick, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties.
According to Pittman, developers have been rewarded for their contributions with excessive influence in County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration.
“Steve Schuh has received more than $175,000 in campaign contributions just from 7 developers and their agents, most of it when no re-election campaign was underway,” said Pittman. “In return, these donors were given majority control of Schuh’s Planning and Zoning Transition Committee and General Development Plan Citizens Advisory Committee. They were also given the largest fee cut in county history: $125 million that the county auditor said was fiscally irresponsible. Schuh argued that we needed the cut to ‘spur development.’” (Planning and Zoning Transition team members and their business gave over $100,000 and over $50,000 was received from members of the General Development Citizens Advisory Committee.)
“The result is not only inconsistent application of county laws, but a spike in development sites where erosion control is failing. That’s why our rivers are losing grasses while the rest of the Bay is improving. And don’t get me started on traffic, overcrowded schools, and stresses to public safety personnel.”
Pittman reflected on the battle over Turtle Run as an example of how developers use campaign money to influence politicians and threaten the environment.
“Charlie Snyder was referred for prosecution by a previous county executive after he illegally clear-cut trees where he hoped to build houses,” said Pittman. “That made him angry enough to bundle developer money and buy himself a county executive. When Steve Schuh won, he not only put Snyder on his transition team, but he had the planning department reverse its opposition to the project. The community and the state Critical Area Commission finally blocked Snyder, so Schuh used reforestation fund money to purchase the land from Snyder at what appears to be an inflated price.
“Prince George’s, Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties all have bans or reporting laws to prevent this pay-to-play game with the land that sustains us. I will pursue a ban on campaign contributions from developers and their agents when they have applications pending. It’s time for Anne Arundel to clean up its politics and clean up its water.”
Steuart Pittman’s “Putting Communities First” campaign focuses on bringing people together to rein in the influence of corporate developers, support neighborhoods, strengthen local schools, and improve public safety. Pittman has been endorsed by police, firefighters, teachers, and environmental advocates.


To access a videostream of the news conference go to:
Residents can show their support for the ban on pay-to-play politics by completing this form:
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