|Montgomery County Executive candidate|
Robin Ficker is mobbed by supporters
after speaking at County Council building
earlier this year
Ficker and County Republican Party Chairman Dick Jurgena questioned the non-partisan status of the hosts in a statement released this morning by the Ficker campaign. "Is this just a dog and pony (or should I say circus animals) show to help the Democrat particpants to energize their base?" Jurgena asked. Ficker charged that the Chamber enjoys non-profit tax status, but is displaying favor toward one political party.
"Obviously there is a quid pro quo between the council member-county executive candidates and the Chamber," Ficker alleged. "By promoting their candidacies, the Chamber is not only taking advantage of these public office positions to collect $70 a head, but the council members must have promised the Chamber something in return for holding this campaign forum. What is the quid pro quo?"
Both men also questioned the admission price of $70 for non-Chamber members. "If [County] residents want to hear only one side of the issues, they can go to the Montgomery County Council meetings and listen to the term-limited Democrats, and they can save the cost of the $70.00 ticket fee for admission," Jurgena said. Chamber President and CEO Ginanne Italiano said the high price is due to the debate's inclusion in the Chamber's annual legislative event, and that ticketholders would have access to an open bar cocktail reception afterward.
Ficker took a shot at the three Democrats invited, noting that all are barred from running for their current Council seats, due to voters overwhelmingly approving Ficker's term limits ballot question last November. "If these Term Limited County Executive candidates want to hold a forum hosted by a political party club, exclude me and charge party members $1,000 to attend, that is fine with me," he said. "But when a nonprofit Chamber of Commerce holds a County Executive forum, they should invite candidates of both parties and should accommodate Montgomery Countians to listen for free."