Comptroller Franchot Calls on Speaker Busch to Remove Campaign Treasurer

February 14th, 2019

Neal Katcef is Anne Arundel County’s largest Budweiser distributor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (February 08, 2019) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today issued this statement in response to the introduction of Senate Bill 687 – Alcoholic Beverages – Prohibition of Donations to Regulators. The bill will be heard on February 22 at 1 p.m., in the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee. Below is a copy of the letter Comptroller Franchot sent to Speaker Busch and all members of the Maryland General Assembly:

“Earlier this week, Sen. Ben Kramer introduced a bill that would specifically prohibit me, or members of the Office of the Maryland Comptroller, from accepting campaign contributions from the alcohol, tobacco and motor fuel industries. I believe this is part of the ongoing campaign to punish me for pulling back the curtain on the big beer cartel that has been running Annapolis for decades.

“I will gladly support the bill if this bill applies equally to all members of the Maryland General Assembly, their slate committees, Political Action Committees (PACs) and all of the other backdoor ways they have to raise money from special interests. If we’re serious about taking big beer money out of the political process, let’s stop playing games and seeking retribution for one person’s support of the family-owned, small business, craft beer industry. Let’s do this right.

“I encourage Speaker of the House, Mike Busch, to lead by example. His campaign treasurer, the person who handles the collection of donations to his election efforts, is Neal Katcef, the biggest Budweiser distributor in Anne Arundel County. First, I would like to say that I have known Neal personally for many years and he has even supported my own campaigns. He is the consummate gentleman and incredibly supportive and generous to the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County community through his charitable activities. He also works professionally and proactively with our Field Enforcement Division. This is not an effort focused on Mr. Katcef as an individual.

“However, how can the Annapolis Machine claim, with straight faces, to be objective on issues affecting Maryland craft beer when a major player in Big Beer literally collects the campaign contributions, writes the checks, and keeps the books for the most powerful man in the House of Delegates?

“It is in that spirit of consistency that I have publicly called for Speaker Busch to remove Mr. Katcef as his official campaign treasurer, effective today, and assign these responsibilities to someone with no ties to Maryland’s alcohol, tobacco or motor fuel industries.

“If we are truly serious about making this effort something more than a political stunt from the Annapolis Machine, then it must be a complete, unconditional break with these special interests.”

February 8, 2019

The Honorable Michael E. Busch

Speaker, Maryland House of Delegates

H-101 State House

Annapolis, MD 21401 – 1991

Dear Mr. Speaker:

          As you know, Senator Ben Kramer introduced legislation earlier this week that would specifically prohibit me and employees of my agency from accepting campaign contributions from the alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel industries.

        I will gladly support this legislative proposal if it applies equally to all members of the Maryland General Assembly, their slate committees, political action committees and all of the other backdoor ways there are to raise money from special interests. If we are serious about taking big beer money out of the political process, let’s stop playing games and let’s do it right.

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