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Schaefer Remarks Criticized

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer--infamous for referring to women, even cabinet secretaries, as "little girls"--inflamed sensibilities again today at a Board of Public Works meeting.

The meeting had just begun, with more than 100 people in attendance, when a young woman delivered the 84-year-old comptroller a cup of coffee. (video clip)

Schaefer (D) watched her walk away, appearing to stare at her backside, then motioned for her to come back.

"Walk again," he told her.

The woman, an aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), left the room, seemingly flustered. Others aides later said she was embarrassed.

Schaefer defended his behavior and berated reporters who suggested there was anything offensive about it.

"That's so God-damn dumb I can't believe it," Schaefer said. "I look at one of the girls as she walked out. Big deal.... I look at the girls every time they walk out. The day I don't look at pretty girls, I die."

But his opponent in the September Democratic primary, Del. Peter Franchot (Montgomery), called the comments "obviously inappropriate."

"I'm sure the comptroller, when he thinks about this, will feel badly about it," Franchot said.

John Wagner

State Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D), the only woman on the public works board, said she had not noticed the incident. But women lawmakers decried the comments and called for an apology.

Schaefer, who recently celebrated 50 years in public service, is no stranger to controversy. In recent years, he has provoked outrage by complaining about a Spanish-speaking McDonald's clerk and suggesting that there should be a public registry of people with AIDS. And his reference to women as "little girls" has prompted some criticism, as well.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 15, 2006; 12:46 PM ET
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