Posted on October 17, 2019

Ex-Maryland Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Misusing Campaign Funds

Michael Kunzelman, Baltimore Sun, October 17, 2019

A former Maryland state lawmaker pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge that she illegally used campaign funds for her personal benefit.

Tawanna Gaines faces a sentence of up to 20 years following her plea to one count of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang is scheduled to sentence her Jan. 3. Chuang says guidelines call for eight to 33 months in prison, depending on the court’s calculation of her criminal history.

The plea agreement with prosecutors also calls for Gaines to pay back at least $22,565.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said Gaines spent campaign money on personal expenses including fast food, hair styling, dental work, a cover for her swimming pool and an Amazon Prime membership.

Gaines, a Democrat from Prince George’s County, was charged earlier this month in a criminal information. {snip}


Since June 2002, Gaines had used a campaign committee called “Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines” to raise money for her political campaigns. It was a regulated state election campaign committee with a designated bank account. Separately, Gaines controlled a PayPal account for donations that weren’t disclosed in state campaign finance filings, a court filing said.

Tawana Gaines

Gaines, who was vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee, submitted her resignation to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones on Oct. 4.