A coalition of Anne Arundel County community groups has called on county executive candidate Jessica Haire to return more than $250,000 in campaign contributions they claim she received from a Silver Spring developer hoping to construct a landfill in Odenton and entities associated with the company.
Haire, a County Council member from Edgewater, is among five candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. In recent weeks, she has been criticized by her opponents, namely former Annapolis Del. Herb McMillan, a Republican, and Democratic County Executive Steuart Pittman, for accepting tens of thousands in donations from individuals and businesses listed at the address of Halle Companies, a Montgomery County-based developer connected to various projects around the county, including the proposed Odenton landfill.
Four community groups drafted a letter calling on Haire to give back a reported $251,900 in donations she received in April and June from entities associated with Halle. The signees of the letter were Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association, Woodwardville Preservation Society, Greater Crofton Council and Crofton First, all of which are opposed to the Chesapeake Terrace Rubble landfill, which Halle Companies has sought to build along Patuxtent Road for decades.
“For more than 30 years, the communities surrounding the proposed Chesapeake Terrace Rubble Landfill have fought the Halle Development Company to prevent the construction of this landfill,” the letter read. “If built, the landfill would destroy environmentally-sensitive areas immediately adjacent to residential communities, while damaging the quality of life throughout those communities.”
Reached for comment by email, Sharon Wanamaker of Crofton First said, “I think I speak for everyone when I say the letter speaks for itself.”
The letter lists dozens of donors with connections to Halle Companies, including Halle Companies President & CEO Warren Halle, Vice Presidents Martha Halle, Jon Halle, Gerry Halle and Stephen Fleischman, and Vice President of Construction and Development Rich Rounds. Haire also received money from people who share addresses with those who have roles at the company. Almost every donation of someone related to Halle Companies was $6,000, the maximum allowable by the State Board of Elections.
The Capital calculated $90,000 in donations from businesses listed at the address of Halle Companies and $83,900 in donations from people who worked at Halle, according to the company website, or lived with people who worked there, for a total of $173,900 in donations over the past four months.
According to the organizations that signed the letter, the total was actually $251,900 thanks to a series of donations from people with addresses listed in Upper Marlboro, Burtonsville, Silver Spring and Brookeville as well as Raleigh, North Carolina. The groups filed a Maryland Public Information Act request Thursday with Haire’s office at the County Council to release all communications between Haire and Halle and documents that mention the landfill or Halle Companies.
Haire, who could not be reached Thursday, said on Monday she would not give special treatment to the Halle Companies and said she only recently learned about the landfill project. A meeting is scheduled between Haire and some community members later this month, she said, to discuss the residents’ concerns.
“This is nothing more than a coordinated political attack by groups that support and are connected to Steuart Pittman,” said Doug Mayer, a spokesperson for Haire’s campaign. “Jessica looks forward to defeating the county executive in November and putting this county back on track.”
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One community organization that has been active in the fight against the landfill decided not to sign the letter — a group of residents in Two Rivers.
“We’re not sure this is the best strategy to ask her to do this,” said Ed Riehl, an Odenton resident and the group’s informal leader.
The group didn’t see any benefit in signing the letter because they already know she’s taken this money and whether or not she gives it back isn’t important to them, Riehl said. The group also aims to be nonpolitical. However, Riehl said all the local groups surrounding the landfill are troubled by the donations.
“All the neighborhood groups are really concerned with Halle,” Riehl said. “It concerns us a lot when one of the leading Republican candidates has taken so much money and claims she doesn’t know anything about the landfill. It is alarming.”
A comment request left with Halle Companies’ headquarters in Silver Spring was not returned Thursday.
Thursday was the final day of early voting ahead of the Tuesday primary. In addition to McMillan, Haire is facing former County Council member John Grasso, corporate recruiter Chris Jahn and engineer Fernando Berra to secure the party’s nomination.
The winner will face Pittman in the Nov. 8 general election.