By Ryan Miner
Washington County Commissioner Wayne Keefer has been scrambling in the last week to prove his neutrality after I reported that he was allegedly caught pushing former Board of Education candidate Linda Murray to fill the vacancy created by Karen Harshman after the Maryland State Board of Education expelled Harshman from the Washington County Board of Education in April.
As previously reported, several sources who attended the Washington County Republican Central Committee’s Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner last week at Fountain Head Country Club overhead Keefer plugging Linda Murray as his personal pick to replace Harshman on the Board of Education.
Last Thursday, I emailed Keefer, asking him to comment on the reports of him pushing Murray’s candidacy at said dinner. Keefer quickly responded to my email and aggressively denied the allegations of any bias towards Murray.
Here’s part of Keefer’s emailed response to me:
This decision is of particular interest to the community, and it goes without saying that I have been contacted by numerous people urging me to support a number of different candidates for the BOE vacancy, including Linda Murray, but several others as well and in equal numbers. However, I have made no promises of support to any constituent or to any prospective applicant for the vacancy. Either your sources have been misinformed, a political adversary is concocting a story for personal gain, or my sincerity to each constituent and offer to carefully consider their request has been misinterpreted as a definitive answer.
If Keefer has made no explicit promise of support to Murray, then why did he write her $50.00 check last fall?
According to the Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System, Wayne Keefer contributed to $50.00 to Linda Murray’s campaign on October 26, 2016 – the only Washington County Board of Education candidate on record that Keefer has contributed to. The database shows that Keefer also made donations to the Allegany, Washington and Frederick County Republican Central Committees, Mike McKay for Delegate and Citizens for Viki Pauler.
Keefer, if you remember, also served a stint as Terry Baker’s congressional campaign treasurer in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Another Baker campaign associate, Jerry DeWolf, who served as Baker’s congressional campaign manager, was recently supported by the five-member commissioner board to serve as chair of the nonpartisan search committee.
After I released the article that initially reported the allegations that Keefer was pushing Murray’s candidacy at the Republican Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, my sources reported to me that Keefer hurriedly called Al Martin, another perspective candidate and former 2016 Board of Education candidate who is interested in filling Harshman’s vacancy, to ensure Martin that the rumors of him shilling for Murray were false.
I sent Keefer a follow-up email last week to which he still has not responded. I will update this story if Keefer responds to my latest email request for comment.