SEABROOK – Prince George’s Council Member Obie Patterson has been accused by the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee (PGGOP) of using a county email address and listserv to distribute information on a campaign event featuring Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous in an ethics complaint filed to the Office of Ethics and Accountability on Sept. 17.
Patterson, who currently represents District 8, was scheduled to be co-headlining an event featuring Jealous at the Harborside Hotel in Oxon Hill for his State Senate campaign on Oct. 5.
The event information was circulated by Shirley Anglin, citizen service specialist for Patterson’s district, using her government email address and a listserv that included the contact information for “thousands of residents,” according to the complaint.
While she cannot talk about active investigations, Office of Ethics Executive Director Robin Barnes-Shell said reports of an ethics violation are researched and interviews with those involved are conducted with the goal of having a result in 60 days.
“It is an insult to Prince George’s taxpayers that county government resources are being used to send political ads to residents encouraging them to support and even vote for Democratic Party candidates,” Prince George’s County Republican Party Chair Brandon Cooper said.
Following the complaint being filed, Patterson released a statement, saying actions within his office have been taken “to ensure that a situation such as this does not happen again.”
After servicing two terms with the County Council, Patterson, a Democrat, will be taking on Republican Ike Puzon for a state Senate seat in November’s general election.
Patterson was elected to the Council in 2010 and re-elected for his second term in 2014. Before joining the Council, he served 12 years on the state House of Delegates and worked in the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 30 years.
Jealous spokesperson Jerusalem Demsas said in an email statement that the campaign believed the event had “been cancelled and that this email was sent in error.”
In a memo released to county employees on March 16, 2018, Barnes-Shell said that state and county law allow participation in any political activity but that they may “not engage” in it during work hours. Also, the memo stated that employees should not use computers, emails or “any other resource” provided by the county for political activity.
A five-person Board of Ethics, including herself, will decide if any fines or consequences would be placed if someone were to be found guilty with a violation, Barnes-Shell said.
In a press release, PGGOP officials state that there is a possibility that the violation could include “termination or even misdemeanor charges being filed by the State’s Attorney’s Office.”