Aberdeen, Md., mayor's baseball stadium trip to Augusta spurs ethics complaint

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 4:46 PM
Last updated 4:57 PM
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A challenger in the Aberdeen, Md., mayor’s race has filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Michael Bennett over Bennett’s Oct. 3 visit to Augusta to promote a downtown baseball stadium here.

Speaking to a small group of Augusta Rotarians, Bennett defended his city’s 2002 decision to build a stadium for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, a Ripken Baseball-owned team in Cal Ripken’s hometown.

“You can’t go wrong,” Bennett remarked of Augusta’s proposal to spend public money on construction of a downtown stadium for the Ripken-owned Augusta GreenJackets.

Patrick McGrady, who is running against Bennett for mayor, alleged several violations of Aberdeen’s ethics code in his complaint, a copy of which was forwarded to The Augusta Chronicle.

The allegations center on whether Ripken’s purchase of McGrady’s plane ticket to Augusta constituted a gift or compensation for contract work.

Either way, Bennett’s Augusta visit, in which he represented himself as Aberdeen mayor, violated the city’s ethics code, which requires him to disclose in advance activities that benefit him personally, McGrady said.

McGrady also asked the ethics commission to investigate whether Bennett was an employee of the firm with which Aberdeen has a contract, Ripken Baseball.

Reached Tuesday, McGrady said he had received no response to his Oct. 14 complaint. He said he forwarded his concerns to a Maryland special prosecutor who investigates ethics violations.

A spokesman for Bennett said the mayor was in meetings all afternoon and could not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aberdeen City Manager Doug Miller said in an e-mail that he and the chair of the ethics commission received the complaint but that no decision had been made.

Several Augusta commissioners reached Tuesday said they were unaware of McGrady’s complaint or of a letter he sent warning about the financial difficulties Aberdeen has encountered since construction of the Ironbirds stadium.

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Taylor B
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Taylor B 10/18/11 - 05:24 pm
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We can't go wrong? Dude,

We can't go wrong? Dude, Aberdeen is averaging $400,000 losses each year while selling out every game. Lets learn from the mistakes of others, shall we?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/18/11 - 05:31 pm
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Maybe they can bring those

Maybe they can bring those ethics investigators down here. We can use um. But nothing matters down here with the cabal. They are like the honey badger. They don't care about ethics, bribes or setting up elections in order to get what they want. Honey badger don't care. Nothing can stop him.

Piperpig
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Piperpig 10/18/11 - 06:45 pm
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Honey Badger takes what he

Honey Badger takes what he wants.

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 10/18/11 - 07:56 pm
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Glad these complaints were

Glad these complaints were filed. Who paid him to come down here and try to help sell the taxpayers a pig in a poke?

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/18/11 - 08:20 pm
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Ripken baseball. Thats who.

Ripken baseball. Thats who.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 08:19 am
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How does a day trip in and

How does a day trip in and out of Augusta to make a speech constitute a "payoff"? When Augusta got a flight to Cincinnati (pre 9-11) and they flew a bunch of politicians and media (me included) to the Cincinnati airport for a tour...was THAT a "payoff'? How did this trip to Augusta to talk to a civic club benefit this man?

I make speeches to civic clubs all the time...is the lunch they serve a "payoff"?

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 08:21 am
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Does getting a plane ticket

Does getting a plane ticket to Augusta to testify in a court case constitute a "bribe" by the lawyer flying you in?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/19/11 - 08:31 am
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Oh, you mean Maryland

Oh, you mean Maryland politicians are so nice they'll fly anywhere just for the price of the ticket to speak? I wonder how they determine who they will speak for? By the way, what has been the financial effect of the stadium in Aberdeen?

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 08:41 am
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I get a phone call from the

I get a phone call from the Pittsburgh Rotary Club inviting me to talk to their group on recent Masters history. Current events is my livelihood, so they can either fly me in, or, they can pay me for the ticket and I can declare it, and then deduct the cost of the ticket as a business expense...

RM...have you ever been flown anywhere for a day meeting? The Mayor is a public official...he has first hand experience with the baseball stadium construction. (content of his speech is immaterial here)...how is this any different than any other business trip where experience and first hand testimony is shared?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/19/11 - 08:44 am
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I'm not naive. Not so much

I'm not naive. Not so much about this case, but I also believe a public personality doesn't accept trips, hotel rooms and other amenities without the understanding he will talk up whatever the business desires. Such a person who starts talking up how great something is clearly has a conflict of interest and IRS implications if nothing else. Let's see how the ethics violations play out in MD.

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 10/19/11 - 08:46 am
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What the MD ethics violation

What the MD ethics violation is about is they are not naive enough to believe this is only about a plane ticket.

BevBoudreaux
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BevBoudreaux 10/19/11 - 08:48 am
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the problem is he lied about

the problem is he lied about the history of Ripken Stadium. It's been a big money loser.. he said otherwise in Augusta. Read all the articles Austin. This mayor knew it was losing money.. but he is paid by Ripken Baseball to come to Augusta to sing a different tune. That stadium is a money loser for that city but he comes to Augusta and says all is fine and dandy. Oh and btw, he is running for reelection.. maybe a payoff? Who knows? But it doesn't look or smell right.

BevBoudreaux
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BevBoudreaux 10/19/11 - 08:53 am
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look at this from the

look at this from the Baltimore Sun :http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/news/ph-ag-re-bennett-trip-1012-20111010,0,7464001.story

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/19/11 - 08:54 am
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Austin asked, "RM...have you

Austin asked, "RM...have you ever been flown anywhere for a day meeting?"

I've been to conferences all over the country paid for either by me or my company. I've also been flown by large companies to speak to others about the book I authored in my career field. I was paid up front and my expenses were paid. No one thought I was there out of the goodness or my heart. I never came back to Augusta and started to use their products or talked them up. It was about money as all such trips are.

BevBoudreaux
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BevBoudreaux 10/19/11 - 09:03 am
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so was he flown down

so was he flown down specifically to lobby for Ripken Baseball? Do you really believe this is only about a plane ticket? Do you not have a problem that he misrepresented the truth? Election year.. company that does bidness with the city.. and you think think this is just about a plane ticket? OK go ahead and believe that if you like Austin

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:26 am
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Right now it is about a plane

Right now it is about a plane ticket...if there is another form of compensation going on, prove it...or you are just throwing accusations out.

...and RM...yes, there are MANY times when people travel UNCOMPENSATED to state the case in favor (or against) a particular interest or person.

When Charlie Norwood flew to Texas to campaign for a GOP Congressman there, they pay for his plane ticket...they didn't compensate him. Same thing here. A sitting politician comes to a city to "lobby" for a cause he believes in. If you think he is bribed to do it, then prove it.

If Deke gets flown to Aberdeen to tell Ripken Baseball's side of this story, from his vantage point...is the plane ticket there a bribe?

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 10/19/11 - 09:28 am
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The difference is he is a
Unpublished

The difference is he is a elected official not a radio personality. He should be smart enough to know what this would look like. I would imagine if this was Charles Walker your tune would be different.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:30 am
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If flying in and out of a

If flying in and out of a city on a day trip (with no golf or casinos or concerts, etc. involved) constitutes a "bribe"...and has been proven so in a court of law, I will push a pencil across Broad Street with my nose.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:31 am
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IWANNA...in a campaign season

IWANNA...in a campaign season elected officials get flown around free FAR more than radio people do...

Taylor B
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Taylor B 10/19/11 - 09:33 am
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He wasnt mayor when the ball

He wasnt mayor when the ball park was constructed in Aberdeen.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:34 am
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If a member of the Coliseum

If a member of the Coliseum Authority is flown to Iowa to tell the DesMoines Rotary Club how great Global Spectrum is...is that a bribe?

Riverman1
82158
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Riverman1 10/19/11 - 09:34 am
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Austin, if we thought he only

Austin, if we thought he only flew for Ripken for the price of the ticket no one would say anything except call him a liar about the financial experiences with THEIR stadium. Of course WE can't prove it, but maybe someone in MD where the ethics investigation will happen can.

You are mixing apples and oranges (thanks, Herman) talking about political candidates traveling around speaking for each other. But you know what? There's even self-interest in that when it comes right down to it. If your party does better, you do better, yada, yada, yada.

I am amazed that someone who deals with nuance believes this guy flew here without having some financial relationship with Ripken.

But as I said, the honey badger cabal doesn't care when they want something. They will have you and everybody else in the media talking this up before it's over. The stadium will be built just like the TEE was. Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman has said as much with his creative financing remarks.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:34 am
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...and Taylor...YOU weren't

...and Taylor...YOU weren't alive when Volkswagon was founded...got any professional opinions about them?

BevBoudreaux
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BevBoudreaux 10/19/11 - 09:37 am
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the other problem is he lied

the other problem is he lied about the financial history of the stadium.. said the city wasn't losing money on it.. Austin, we know you worship Deke and love this stadium idea, as well as most of the other white elephants downtown... but please at least do your research on this.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:39 am
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No...I am not RM. This is

No...I am not RM. This is ultimately a political issue...not a pure business deal. If it were, you wouldn't know about it.

EVERY political issue has people on both sides with an interest in the outcome...nature of the beast.

I don't agree with Deke pushing the stadium when no one wants it, but I believe he is misguided, not crooked. No money changing hands there. How much $$$ does it take to bribe a Copenhaver or a Boardman or a Morris or a Knox?

Disagree with these guys all you want...but to suggest cash payouts are the order of the day is silly. Suggesting that buying a plane ticket is a "bribe" or "unethical" is the same.

Would you be saying the same if he drove down here?

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:40 am
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Yeah Bev...me and Deke are

Yeah Bev...me and Deke are best buds.

You just move to Augusta, or are you visiting from the moon?

Iwannakno
1533
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Iwannakno 10/19/11 - 09:40 am
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Maybe if they fly Taylor to
Unpublished

Maybe if they fly Taylor to Germany he might...everyone knows you are for the pork barrel stadium.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:42 am
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RM...I agree with you that

RM...I agree with you that the Mayor of Aberdeen is telling a twisted tale, but I don't recall defending that, or agreeing with it.

I don't care if he was here to hand out LDS pamphlets, the trip here was no bribe, nor was accepting the plane ticket unethical.

BevBoudreaux
0
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BevBoudreaux 10/19/11 - 09:44 am
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Let's see.. Ripken stadium

Let's see.. Ripken stadium has a lucrative financial deal with the city of Aberdeen, MD.. Mayor Michael Bennett is running for reelection.. The city of Aberdeen loses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on its Baseball Stadium. Bennett travels to Augusta on behalf of Ripken Baseball to say otherwise to help sell a similar stadium deal here.. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 10/19/11 - 09:48 am
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Iwanna...show me any quote,

Iwanna...show me any quote, article, clip, etc. where I have advocated on behalf of the stadium in the last two years. Put up or shut up.

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