New Hospital Association Chief Showers Ex-Colleagues with Donations from Campaign Fund

MARYLAND MATTERS: Melony G. Griffith, the new president of the Maryland Hospital Association who was the chair of the state Senate Finance Committee until late last fall, spread tens of thousands of dollars in funds from her campaign war chest to former colleagues in the days leading up to the General Assembly session.

Campaign finance reports detailing the fundraising and spending of hundreds of state and local elected officials for the past year were due at the Maryland State Board of Elections on Wednesday night.

Griffith’s finance statement shows that she distributed $140,000 to dozens of campaign committees between mid-January of last year and Jan. 10 of this year — and the recipients included two-thirds of her former Senate Democratic colleagues. Most of her donations went out in late December and early January, just before the Jan. 10 kickoff of the legislative session.

Griffith was one of three senators who departed the legislature in 2023, and four members of the House of Delegates also left. All showed different strategies for how they handled their leftover campaign funds.

Former Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery), who resigned in early spring to join the Moore administration in the Maryland Department of Human Services, was the only one of the seven ex-lawmakers to close his campaign account in the past year. Former Del. Darryl Barnes (D), who represented the same Prince George’s County legislative district as Griffith and resigned in the spring to join a lobbying firm, was far and away the most generous to his ex-colleagues in the past year after Griffith, contributing more than $40,000 to other campaign committees.

As the chair of a powerful committee for most of 2023, which has health care, banking and finance, business regulation and labor in its portfolio, Griffith did a brisk amount of fundraising over the first two-thirds of the year. She reported raising $114,807.40 during the previous year — and distributed some campaign cash to colleagues during the first part of the year.

But Griffith’s donations to other campaign committees accelerated dramatically after she was appointed to the Maryland Hospital Association post; a Maryland Matters analysis of her campaign finance report showed she wrote checks totaling $125,000 in late December and early January.

“After meeting with my campaign finance committee, we decided to begin sharing some of our resources this reporting period,” Griffith told Maryland Matters in a text message Friday. “This has presented us with an opportunity to help some of the leaders who are working hard in our communities to elevate the issues that matter most to the citizens of District 25 and the state of Maryland.”

Griffith’s campaign contributions over the past year were:

  • $16,000 to the 25th District Leadership Team
  • $6,000 to Sen. Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel), who took over for Griffith as chair of the Finance Committee
  • $6,000 to Attorney General Anthony Brown (D), who was elected to the House at the same time as Griffith, in 1998, and represented the same district
  • $6,000 to Senate Education, Energy and Environment Chair Brian J. Feldman (D-Montgomery)
  • $6,000 to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City)
  • $6,000 to Senate Budget and Taxation Chair Guy Guzzone (D-Howard)
  • $6,000 to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County)
  • $6,000 to Senate Judicial Proceedings Chair William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery)
  • $6,000 to Sen. Craig J. Zucker (D-Montgomery)
  • $5,000 to Sen. Nick Charles (D-Prince George’s), who was appointed to replace Griffith in the Senate
  • $5,000 to Gov. Wes Moore (D)
  • $4,000 to Senate President Pro Tem Malcolm Augustine (D-Prince George’s)
  • $3,500 to Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles)
  • $3,500 to Sen. Dawn Gile (D-Anne Arundel)
  • $2,500 to House Ways and Means Chair Vanessa E. Atterbeary (D-Howard)
  • $2,500 to House Judiciary Chair Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City)
  • $2,500 to Prince George’s County Councilmember Calvin Hawkins (D)
  • $2,500 to Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-Baltimore City)
  • $2,500 to Sen. Mary-Dulany James (D-Harford)
  • $2,500 to Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City)
  • $2,500 to House Health and Government Operations Chair Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel)
  • $2,500 to Del. Jheanelle K. Wilkins (D-Montgomery)
  • $2,500 to House Economic Matters Chair C.T. Wilson (D-Charles)
  • $2,000 to Prince George’s County Councilmember Jolene Ivey (D)
  • $2,000 to Sen. Michael A. Jackson (D-Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert)
  • $2,000 to Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery)
  • $2,000 to Senate Majority Leader Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery)
  • $2,000 to Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s)
  • $2,000 to Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery)
  • $2,000 to Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City and Baltimore County)
  • $2,000 to Sen. Ron Watson (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,500 to Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County)
  • $1,500 to Sen. Alonzo T. Washington (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,000 to Del. Tiffany T. Alston (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,000 to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D), who is running for U.S. Senate
  • $1,000 to Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,000 to Charles County Board of Commissioners President Reuben B. Collins II (D)
  • $1,000 to Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Montgomery)
  • $1,000 to Prince George’s County Councilmember Wanika Fisher (D)
  • $1,000 to Del. Andrea Fletcher Harrison (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,000 to Del. Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,000 to Del. Kent Roberson (D), who represents Griffith’s old legislative district
  • $1,000 to Del. Denise Roberts (D), who was just appointed to a House seat in Griffith’s legislative district (her campaign committee is still listed under her former name, Denise Smith)
  • $1,000 to Del. Karen Toles (D), who also represents Griffith’s old district
  • $1,000 to Del. Kriselda Valderrama (D-Prince George’s)
  • $1,000 to Del. Nicole A. Williams (D-Prince George’s)
  • $500 to Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D)

As of Jan. 10, Griffith, who spent 16 years in the House and the past five in the Senate, showed $167,243.06 in her campaign account, and she said she expects to continue making campaign donations over the course of the year.

“We will continue to meet as a committee and explore other opportunities to be helpful as the important work continues,” she said.

The other state senators who departed the chamber in 2023 — Paul G. Pinsky, who left to become director of the Maryland Energy Administration, and Susan C. Lee, who became Maryland Secretary of State — were considerably stingier with their campaign funds. Both joined the Moore administration early last year.

Pinsky’s campaign finance report showed he made just two campaign contributions in the past year: $2,000 to the Maryland Democratic Party and $999 to Alsobrooks. He also distributed $7,000 in campaign funds to the Karabelle Pizzigati Initiative at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, a children’s advocacy and education program. And he donated $500 to the New Deal Cafe, a venerable restaurant and music venue in Greenbelt, in his former legislative district.

Pinsky still had $98,449.19 in his campaign account as of Jan. 10.

Lee made just two campaign contributions totaling $1,000 to Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D). She had $264,082.26 in her war chest on Jan. 10.

Ex-delegates pony up

Barnes, the long-serving chair of the Legislative Black Caucus before leaving the legislature, spread his money around to 39 elected officials, topped by a $2,500 contribution to Nick Charles, with whom he represented District 25 in the House, and $2,000 apiece to Jolene Ivey and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy (D) — another former legislator from District 25. He gave $1,500 each to Lierman, the state comptroller, and to Del. Mike Rogers (D-Anne Arundel).

Barnes donated $1,000 to former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D), who is trying to get her old job back. And notably, he made contributions to three Republican lawmakers: House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany), who got a $750 check; Del. Wayne A. Hartman (R-Lower Shore), who picked up $500; and Sen. Bill Folden (R-Frederick), who got a $250 donation.

Barnes kept $69,905.74 in his campaign account as of Jan. 10.

Kumar P. Barve, the former chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee who left the legislature mid-year to become a commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission, doled out $13,250 in campaign contributions from his political account over the past year, mostly to lawmakers who represent his old district or to former committee colleagues.

Barve gave $2,000 each to Feldman, the chair of the Senate Education, Energy and Environment Committee, and Kagan, the vice chair of that committee and Barve’s old district-mate. He also gave $2,000 each to Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-Montgomery); Del. Julie Palakovich Carr (D), who represents Barve’s old 17th District; and Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery), who took over Barve’s old committee.

Barve donated $1,000 to Del. Anne Healey (D-Prince George’s), a senior member of the Environment and Transportation panel, $1,000 to Del. Nick Allen (D-Baltimore County), and $1,000 to Del. Ryan Spiegel (D), who replaced Barve in the House. The PSC commissioner also donated $250 to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

Barve still had $85,713.67 on hand as of Jan. 10.

Former Del. Tony Bridges (D-Baltimore City), who left the House in the spring to become an assistant secretary at the Maryland Department of Transportation, made just three contributions from his campaign fund, totaling $5,750: $3,000 to ex-Del. Bilal Ali (D), a former colleague from the 41st District; $2,500 to Paris Gray (D), a candidate for Baltimore City Council; and $250 to the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee.

Bridges had $4,501.73 on hand on Jan. 10.

Reznik closed out his campaign last year with a $4,633.45 contribution to the TEP Foundation, the charitable arm of Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity, which supports educational programming and academic scholarships.

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