Posted: Nov. 30, 2005


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Carl C. Danberg will not be alone in collecting some unexpected returns of the holiday season from M. Jane Brady, the Republican attorney general who is a week away from becoming a judge.

Danberg, who has been Brady's chief deputy since she put him in the job in August 2004, will be getting the most conspicuous of his boss' giveaways -- the last year of her term.

It is coming to him through Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, who has the power to fill the vacancy and did not mind elevating Danberg, who happens to be a fellow Democrat. He will take over next Thursday, the day after Brady joins the Superior Court on Delaware Day.

In addition to the office, Brady also has tens of thousands of dollars to offer, because she has to divest herself of her campaign finance account before she goes on the bench. Judges are barred from having anything to do with politics, and there is nothing more central to politics than money.

"I won't be doing anything [with the account] after the swearing-in," Brady said.

Information on exactly how much is left in Brady's treasury is unavailable. She has not been required to file a campaign finance report since the end of 2004, when she had about $25,000 in her treasury. The next report is due at the end of this year.

Brady still was collecting contributions toward her next campaign, what would have been a fourth-term bid in 2006, up until days before she dumbfounded the state's political circles by applying for the judgeship in mid-September. She says she probably has about $70,000 or $80,000 in the bank.

There are restrictions on what can be done with the money. It can be returned to contributors, it can go to other political organizations, it can be donated to charity, or it can be divided among all of those options.

Whatever happens, it will not be resolved before Brady takes her judicial oath. Instead, she will turn over authority to Thomas J. Shopa, her campaign treasurer who is also the state Republican Party treasurer, according to former Secretary of State Glenn C. Kenton, a close political adviser to Brady.

What most likely will happen first is contributors will get a letter offering them a refund, based on what they sent and what the campaign spent, and then anything left over can be earmarked for Republican organizations or charity, Kenton said. The checks probably will be distributed in the first quarter of 2006.

Beyond the office and the money, Brady leaves behind one of the most riveting deals in Delaware politics. In getting a judgeship, she saved herself from precarious re-election prospects in exchange for handing over the rest of her term to the Democrats.

It all came together with a seasonally festive wink-and-a-nod of nearly unanimous approval from the state Senate, the majority Democrats and the minority Republicans both taking care of their own.

The arrangement also cleared the field for Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, the senator's son who is the Democrats' candidate for attorney general next year. The Republicans, who were counting on Brady, have no one at the moment.

It may not quite have given Biden the office gift-wrapped in Santa's sack, but it did leave the Republicans holding the bag.