Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) owes $13,608 to the IRS, after an agent stopped by their Rockville offices in June to threaten a lien, according to members of the committee and leaked documents.
The MCDCC serves as the chapter of the Democratic Party in Montgomery County, and platforms and campaigns for local Democratic candidates and promotes voter registration and participation efforts.
Under the state constitution, the committee also conducts the search and selection processes in the case of a Democratic General Assembly member leaving their post mid-term. This process, which some legislators have criticized as unconstitutional, is responsible for 41% of Montgomery County delegation appointments. In 2023 alone, the committee was tasked with choosing four delegates and one state senator.
The unpaid bill and lien were allegedly discussed at a closed session of the committee on June 13.
The MCDCC submitted a statement in response to MoCo360’s questions Wednesday, but did not address all questions that were asked.
“After communicating with the IRS, the MCDCC learned of an oversight and clerical issue under previous MCDCC leadership from several years ago that resulted in a payment being owed. The current leadership and committee has worked diligently with the IRS to reconcile that issue, and intends to have the outstanding payment paid in full,” MCDCC Chair Saman Qadeer Ahmad wrote in an email statement to MoCo360 Wednesday. “The MCDCC will continue to be transparent and collaborative with the IRS, and we look forward to having this behind us so we can focus on the issues at hand in Montgomery County.”
The $13,608 amount—and the two-year payment plan to cover it—appear on a budget leaked to MoCo360. Two committee members also confirmed to MoCo360 that MCDCC members were told in the closed meeting that an IRS representative showed up at the MCDCC office in Rockville to threaten a lien against the committee.
The two members asked to speak anonymously for fear of retaliation from committee leaders for speaking to the press.
The closed meeting was initially advertised as a discussion about a contract with a hotel for a future event, according to the committee members who spoke with MoCo360. However, they said, committee chair Ahmad spoke about the IRS lien threat instead.
One member told MoCo360 they disagreed that this issue should be discussed in closed session, because they felt it impacts how the committee interacts with the public.
“We have way too many closed-door meetings,” another member said. “I wish we could record and broadcast our meetings so the public can understand what’s going on.”
An IRS agent arrived at the MCDCC office at the Jewish Council for Aging in June and provided an MCDCC staff member with paperwork threatening a lien for unpaid taxes for 2017-2018, according to the members of the committee who spoke to MoCo360. They allegedly were told that the IRS had apparently been sending notices to the committee’s former address and they were not being received by the committee because of the office move.
An IRS spokesperson said the agency could not comment on cases regarding individual entities.
Moderately MoCo first reported on the leaked budget and alleged tax lien on July 12.
A line item in the leaked budget shows MCDCC is on a two-year payment plan with the IRS, and will pay $6,804 this year and $6,804 next year, or $567 per month.
“That line item is about as opaque to me as it is to you,” one committee member told MoCo360.
Members told MoCo360 that they were told by Ahmad that MCDCC worked out a payment plan with the IRS and members voted to approve a budget including the payment plan but have no official written documentation that this is the case.
“We have not seen the payment plan. We have not been told how this will affect our fundraising,” one member said.
Both members who spoke to MoCo360 expressed their discomfort with fundraising for the committee while this IRS repayment was going on. The members said there is intense pressure within the committee for each committee member to raise hundreds of dollars in donations for the committee.
One member said members are expected to raise at least $500 each year. They can either use their personal funds, or collect funds from others. This member told MoCo360 they are uncomfortable asking others to donate to the committee under the circumstances of the lien.
The committee’s fundraising has continued in earnest, and MCDCC has been promoting an Aug. 3 fundraiser with Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller and a fall gala Oct. 22.
One member said they specifically asked Ahmad for answers about what the withheld taxes specifically went to, but was not given an answer. The member said they were confused why Ahmad was withholding this information when she was not the chair at the time of the alleged tax withholding in 2017 and 2018 and was not responsible for the error. Ahmad assumed her role as chair in January 2023.
Scott Goldberg, who started as MCDCC chair in mid-2018, told MoCo360 he was aware of the lien but had not seen the paperwork and therefore did not know the details or what the specific issue was.
“My understanding is the current committee is taking care of it,” Goldberg said.
Dave Kunes, who served a stint as chair in 2017 and part of 2018, did not respond to request for comment from MoCo360.
MCDCC is required to file yearly campaign statements with the Maryland State Board of Elections and the Federal Elections Commission. MoCo360 reviewed the 2022 report filed in January 2023. While MCDCC filed a second amended report, MoCo360 did not notice any unusual expenditures in the report. However, between 2017 and 2020, MCDCC often filed several amended reports, as many as five.
Major expenditures in the $111,125 MCDCC budget include $46,500 for a fall ball, $32,016 for office rent and administrative expenditures, and $22,191 yearly to pay an office staff member, miscellaneous contractors and payroll expenses.
One member said they can tell there are financial issues within the committee because the committee has pulled back on outreach events. The member said for years the committee has had a booth or table at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, but this year they were told the committee couldn’t afford to have a presence at the event.
“The local Republican party will be there. Why shouldn’t we? It can’t be that expensive,” the member said. “We need to be present in the community. I’m sad we’re not going to the fair.”
While the Montgomery County GOP is listed as a vendor on the fair’s website, but the MCDCC is not. The leaked budget allocates $1,500 for the fair in the outreach budget. It also allocates $600 for a December potluck.