The Rockville Board of Supervisors of Elections has decided not to take any action on a complaint over anonymous campaign fliers distributed throughout King Farm.
In a 3-0 vote Wednesday night, the board chose not to pursue the matter—determining that the issue resolved itself after the person responsible for distributing the fliers came forward during a Rockville City Council meeting Monday.
Board members Brigitta Mullican and Carol Millman were not present for the vote.
The issue arises amid mounting tensions in the days leading up to Rockville’s city elections, which happen Tuesday. It also has reignited discussion over whether Rockville’s election laws need updating.
Max van Balgooy, campaign manager for Councilman and mayoral candidate Mark Pierzchala, filed the complaint Oct. 22, citing a portion of Rockville code prohibiting the distribution of anonymous election materials and failing to register as a campaign committee.
The fliers urged people to vote for city council candidates Don Hadley and Claire Whitaker, and mayoral candidate Bridget Donnell Newton, who is currently a councilwoman.
Lois Neuman, chairwoman of the election board, said the board did not have enough information to make a determination when the complaint was initially filed.
The complaint was filed against “Anonymous person(s)” for failing to register as a campaign committee, which the complaint described as two or more people working together “to assist or promote the success or defeat of any candidate or candidates.”
"What was fact was that some fliers were being distributed without any group or individual taking responsibility for them,” Neuman said. “Well, what do you do with that if you don't have any details? Our position was we needed more details, we needed more information and that's where we left it."
Those details came Monday night, when a King Farm resident came forward claiming she was the only one responsible for the fliers, that she wasn’t affiliated with any candidates or acting on behalf of any group.
“We heard what we needed to hear—that she acted on an individual capacity,” Neuman said. “We decided the issue was resolved, that we’re not going to pursue it any further.”
During the meeting, eight of the 10 people who testified during Citizen’s Forum accused Balgooy, and Councilman Tom Moore, who’s running for re-election, of “bullying” and discouraging free speech for taking action against anonymous election fliers.
Moore reportedly asked representatives from the King Farm community if they were responsible for the fliers.
Balgooy, who also spoke Monday, said that if the King Farm resident who came forward was as the only one involved, then that was OK.
“She's OK to do that as an individual,” Balgooy said. “I certainly protect free speech.”