As the Whig reported in August, a Circuit Court judge rejected County Executive Alan McCarthy’s suit to have Danielle Hornberger’s name removed from the November ballot because of her failure to file a required personal financial statement. The legal bar for such a change to the ballot is high, and the judge ruled that McCarthy had not met it.
I have obtained the transcript of the court hearing on this matter, the judge’s written decision, and Ms. Hornberger’s financial statements (public documents), the first one not filed until a month after the June primary election. My review of this material gives me considerable concern about Ms. Hornberger’s candidacy.
The record does not indicate any obvious dishonesty on either side. An Elections Board staff member (since removed) certified Ms. Hornberger’s candidacy without the required document and later attempted to cover her own mistakes. Ms. Hornberger was not involved in that malfeasance.
What is evident is Ms. Hornberger’s cavalier attitude about the requirements for filing for candidacy, and not just for the financial statement but also for a treasurer’s form. The need to file a financial disclosure form is listed on the Election Board’s website quite prominently. In her testimony she claimed ignorance as a first-time candidate and couldn’t remember key events. She said she counted on an Election Board staff member to tell her what to do.
Yet she is running for County Executive, which oversees a complex bureaucracy with a current total budget of $339 million. If she is elected, who will then be telling her what to do? Ms. Hornberger has never held elective office and there is nothing in her background that has prepared her for such a job. Her financial statements, filed under penalty of perjury, are obviously incomplete.
Is financial disclosure a paperwork requirement of little importance? Not according to the judge in the case. In his ruling, he wrote that “At best, Hornberger ‘put her head in the sand’ and failed to exercise the due diligence that is expected of a candidate for public office”.
I’m a political independent, but many of my Republican friends apparently think that if a person simply claims to be a “Trump Republican” (Lord help us!) they are qualified for office. Voters in Cecil County deserve better choices than we have this year, the result of a decade of one-party rule. I fear that the dysfunction in Washington will soon be reflected here.