The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s (MCDCC) biggest fundraising event of the year was sold out Sunday night, despite recent scandals and a committee member calling for a boycott.
“There are issues that have got to be worked out, but that’s not a reason not to come,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich told MoCo360 at the event.
The gala, which was held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, was one of the biggest fundraisers for the local branch of the party, with tickets starting at $120 and sponsorship levels starting at $5,000. Numerous awards were also distributed to volunteers.
“We have sold every single ticket and that’s really wonderful,” MCDCC member Seth Grimes (Dist. 20), told MoCo360 at the event. He declined to comment on whether the scandals the committee is facing impacted the event.
The event featured numerous speakers and notable attendees, including MCDCC Chair Saman Ahmad and Vice Chair Pamela Luckett, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Rep. Jamie Raskin (Dist. 8), Rep. David Trone (Dist. 6) and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller. Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who is not running for reelection, was unable to attend.
None of the speakers addressed any inner turmoil MCDCC was facing, instead focusing on the importance of continuing to elect Democrats to office.
Raskin told MoCo360 at the event that he was not aware of the issues going on within MCDCC. He brushed off any ramifications of the boycott, saying:
“It wouldn’t be an annual dinner unless somebody was boycotting it.”
Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin wrote a letter Oct. 4 urging donors to withhold fundraising and boycott the MCDCC’s gala until Ahmad resigns.
Nathan Feldman, who represented District 15 on the panel, gave up his seat on the committee on Oct. 10, citing poor leadership, dysfunction and a lack of financial transparency, and alleging committee leaders worked to further personal agendas rather than serving the public. He called for Ahmad’s resignation in August, alleging she had pressured him to vote certain ways. Liza Smith, who represents District 14 on the panel, joined the call for a boycott on Oct. 10 on her social media account.
Despite the call for a boycott, most committee members attended the event.
In addition to criticism of Ahmad, the committee has faced other scandals. Committee leaders told members in a closed session in June that the panel owed $13,608 to the IRS, after an agent stopped by their Rockville offices to threaten a lien, according to members of the committee and leaked documents. The debt stems from underpayment in 2017 and 2018, prior to Ahmad’s time as chair.
The MCDCC serves as the chapter of the Democratic Party in Montgomery County, and its duties include selecting candidates to replace Democratic General Assembly members from the county who leave their posts mid-term. The committee is responsible for 41% of Montgomery County delegation appointments.
So far in 2023, the committee has been tasked with choosing four delegates and one state senator.
Additionally, Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass posted on social media that he did not attend the event for a different reason.
MCDCC declined to issue press passes, so MoCo360 purchased a ticket to attend the event.
MoCo360 reporter Ginny Bixby contributed to this article.