Schaefer's' Tax Ads Feature First Family
Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) has begrudgingly, it seems, offered to support the Democratic nominee for governor this year -- which is just one reason why he is likely to raise eyebrows today when he unveils new public service ads featuring the wife and son of the Republican incumbent.
The ads -- there are television and radio versions -- are designed to promote Maryland's upcoming tax-free shopping period on clothes and footwear from Aug. 23 to Aug. 27. The TV version of the ad depicts first lady Kendel Ehrlich and her 7-year-old son, Drew, doing back-to-school shopping.
Word of the ads led some Democrats to question Schaefer's involvement in their promotion, given that he is facing a tough primary against Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens and Montgomery County Del. Peter Franchot.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said, "For him to continue to cozy up to the governor at this late stage of the election process isn't going to sit well with some Democratic primary voters."
Schaefer spokesman Kevin Kane said the comptroller is charged by law with implementing the tax-free shopping period and that Schaefer did not pick the ads' stars. "It wasn't the comptroller's call," Kane said.
Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said the first lady was approached by the Maryland Retailers Association, which paid for production of the radio spots. Production costs for the television ads were picked up by WMAR-TV in Baltimore, Kane said.
A provision passed by the General Assembly this year prohibits elected officials from appearing in state-funded public service ads this close to the election. Kane said, however, that no taxpayer money is being used. The state is relying on stations to run them as a public service, he said. Schaefer decided not to appear in the ads himself "to be on the safe side."
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