County Executive Calvin Ball’s Administration Violated The Law

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No wonder Calvin Ball was able to raise over $630,000 from land developers and special interest entities

In late July, a Circuit Court Judge recognized that County Executive Ball’s Office acknowledged that they knowingly and willfully violated the Public Information Act. They did so by agreeing to pay the maximum fines allowed by law for illegally withholding almost 500 emails that reveal Ball’s office met with lobbyist Tom Coale and several of his special interest clients to discuss controversial land development deals. 

Ball’s campaign manager, Jamila Ratliff was at the center of this scheme to withhold the sensitive, politically charged communications and information. While acting as Ball’s assistant in the Office of County Executive, Ms. Ratliff was also paid to manage Calvin’s political campaign – an apparent conflict of interest.

The County must now pay the maximum fines to avoid facing a September trial in which additional evidence of its guilt was to be heard. 

This episode isn’t the first time the Ball Administration has engaged in unethical practices that create conflicts of interest between the County and Ball’s campaign operations. 

As this unethical practice became public, Jamila Ratfliff resigned from her $100,000 a year job with the County. Dr. Ball has chosen to retain Ms. Ratliff’s services on his campaign and even increased her salary to compensate for the wages lost after resigning from the County. 

But it doesn’t stop there. 

There are currently three other employees in the County Executive Ball’s Office who the Ball re-election committee has paid.

It’s a troubling pattern that reinforces the Ball Administration’s plans to continue to conduct its business in secret, using County employees also paid by his campaign, which is, in turn, being funded by special interests. Here are the funds that County Executive Ball’s senior staff received from the campaign:

  • Jennifer Jones paid $12,750 from Jan. 10, 2019 to Jan. 12, 2022
  • Safa Hira paid $27,450.39 from Jan. 10, 2019 to Jan. 12, 2022
  • Jessica Halpin paid $6,500 from Jan. 14, 2021 to Jan. 12, 2022
  • Jamila Ratliff (Ball’s campaign manager) paid $54,584.28 from Jan. 10, 2019 to Jan. 12, 2022

Whenever there is concern about dual employment that creates a conflict of interest, the Ethics Commission determines if Howard County employees are allowed to continue in both roles. Did Calvin Ball’s senior staff seek that permission before engaging in this illegal behavior?

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Allan H. Kittleman

Allan Kittleman is running for Howard County Executive in 2022 to make Howard County a more affordable, safer, and welcoming place where kids can learn in their neighborhood school and folks can comfortably live, work and play. Allan is not taking any donations amounting to more than $250 and is taking ZERO dollars from special interest groups, political parties, trade unions, or corporations. Join our campaign today. Sign up at Kittleman.com/volunteer

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