Public Financed Candidate Campaign Suspension

May 6, 2024
Contact: Jon Weinstein, Vice Chair, 301-455-0877

Publicly Financed Candidate Campaign Suspension

The Friends of Thiru Vignarajah campaign was one of four campaigns certified to participate in the Baltimore Fair Elections Fund in its inaugural election season. Mr. Vignarajah qualified to receive matching funds in the amount of $668,881 which includes a one-time campaign boost in the amount of $200,000.

On May 1, mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah suspended his campaign and endorsed competitor Sheila Dixon. The Commission learned about the campaign suspension in media reports but has since reached out to the campaign to instruct the Chair and Treasurer on program requirements and expectations.

The announced suspension of campaign activities triggers a prohibition on any expenditures from Mr. Vignarajah’s public funds campaign account effective of the date and time of the public announcement. Article 5, Subtitle 11, § 11-18(e) of the Baltimore City Code restricts the use of public funds to campaign activities for the certified candidate and campaign only. Contribution to current or future candidates for elective office other than the one being sought by the participating candidate; or contribution to any entity or organization are prohibited. 

On the question of returning public funds, Article 5, Subtitle 11, § 11-17(g) states “within 30 days of the certification by the City Board of the results of the primary election, a participating candidate who is not certified to be on the ballot for the general election must return to the Fund any unspent money in the candidate’s publicly funded campaign account.” The Commission expects the Friends of Thiru Vignarajah campaign to provide a full accounting of the contributions received and expenditures made during the period of suspension and to remit the unspent balance of the publicly funded campaign account on or before the deadline.

Following the Primary election, the Commission will meet to review the efficiency of the Fair Elections Fund program and promulgate clarifying rules and regulations in consultation with the Baltimore City Law Department and the State Board of Elections.