Sunday, June 24, 2018

Money, Mouth, and Merriweather

This has surely been the campaign season of unusual endorsements. It has also been a time when we shake our heads and marvel at how many endorsement-giving organizations there are in Howard County. For example, there’s The People’s Voice, the Sierra Club, HCEA, the NAACP, Merriweather Post Pavillion...

Wait, what?

I must admit I was startled to learn yesterday that MPP was an endorsing institution this year. I’m wondering how they selected their candidates. Did they interview them? Have them fill out lengthy questionnaires? Perhaps they held a straw poll? I don’t know. But they clearly have choices.

If you haven’t received word of the Merriweather Post Pavillion endorsements, don’t feel bad, you’re not out of the loop. You’re just not an employee of MPP. You see, their recommendations weren’t meant for the general public, but for a select audience: the people whose paychecks they write.

Here’s the email they sent:

As talked about at the Safety Summit, we are reaching out to the entire MPP and JLH staffs to remind them to vote in the Primary, Tuesday June 26 for those who have not already cast their vote.

Specifically, if you are in DISTRICT 12*, please vote for MARY KAY SIGATY (State Senate) and JESSICA FELDMARK (State Delegate) if they are on your ballot. They have been long-time supporters of Merriweather and would be two solid voices to have in Annapolis for many reasons.

Merriweather supporters who have a Primary race:

Howard County Council – Jon Weinstein District 1; Christiana Rigby District 3; Deb Jung District 4; David Yungmann District 5

State Senate – Mary Kay Sigaty District 12

State Delegate – Jessica Feldmark District 12, Eric Ebersole District 12

Thank you, and remember, your vote does matter!

Jean, Brad, Brian, Jeff, Taylor, Justin & Sam


Now what they are doing here is not illegal. But it’s a far cry from a public endorsement process meant to enlighten the community. It certainly makes me curious. Does Merriweather as an entity put their money where their mouth is when it comes to candidates? It turns out that they do.


This is a list of political contributions from MPP and related entities. They certainly seem heavily invested in the campaign of Mary Kay Sigaty for State Senate. This information makes an interesting piece of a larger puzzle which includes enough information for two entire blog posts from Jason Booms of Spartan Considerations (start here) and an article by Kate Magill in the Howard County Times.

Outrageous? I don’t know. But when employers are heavily invested in candidates and candidates are throwing a lot of money around, I’d say that bears scrutiny. Much closer scrutiny. 

But Primary Day is Tuesday. Not much time left to get to the bottom of this mystery. So, here’s the thing. I’m not an endorsing institution, I’ve done no interviews, sent out no questionnaires, held no straw polls. But when I look at the excellent record of candidate Clarence Lam on the one hand, and all these shenanigans on the other, my (completely metaphorical) money is on Lam.

All of us in the community want Merriweather to succeed. Many of us have memories of summers spent enjoying concerts on the lawn. Merriweather is a Big Deal in our community. But that doesn’t mean they need to tell us how to vote. 

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