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Posted at 10:18 AM ET, 09/ 1/2006

Allan Lichtman, Karyn Strickler, acquitted in 2006 TV studio incident

By Washington Post staff

UPDATED June 28, 2012: Allan Lichtman, a one-time U.S. Senate candidate and his wife, Karyn Strickler, were acquitted of all charges that had been filed against them in connection with an August 2006 incident at Maryland Public Television studios.

"We were fully vindicated when we were found not guilty on all charges in the Maryland District Court" in 2006, the couple said in a statement.

ORIGINAL POST Sept. 1, 2006: When Allan Lichtman's protest at the Maryland Public Television studios last night (see video) landed him five hours in a Baltimore County jail cell (see letter from jail), he told WBAL radio this morning that only one person called with an offer to bail him out.

It was Josh Rales, the wealthy Montgomery County businessman who is one of Lichtman's opponents in the race for U.S. Senate, who called and offered to send over a bail bondsman.

The whole ugly event started when Rales, Lichtman and Dennis Rasmussen held a small rally in front of the Baltimore County television studio to protest their exclusion from one of the only televised debates of the Democratic primary campaign. Maryland Public Television, operating under rules established by the League of Women Voters, permitted only the two frontrunners, Ben Cardin and Kweisi Mfume, to participate.

As the hour of the debate drew near, Lichtman decided he would try and muscle his way into the debate by barging into the studio and onto the set. But he was stopped at the front door by a security guard.

A standoff there lasted several long and tedious minutes, as Lichtman and his wife, Karyn Strickler, berated the guard, who was African American, by telling him that similar acts of civil disobedience helped his ancestors break free of the segregated south. Outside the small vestibule, their supporters chanted, "We want Democracy." The guard used his radio to summon police.

After more negotiations failed, officers handcuffed Lichtman, who fell to his knees as his wife yelled, "Go limp Allan! Go limp Allan!" Strickler splayed herself face down on the ground, but was also hauled off to a waiting squad car.

The two have been charged with criminal trespass and have a trial date in October. Lichtman said he didn't need to provide bail to be released, but he thanked Rales for his offer.

Inside, the ire seemed reserved for President Bush. The president's approval ratings are lower in Maryland than in the nation as a whole, and Democrats believe this could put a strong wind behind their efforts in the general election.

The two candidates repeatedly lashed out against the president, over the wars in Iraq and on terror, and over his handling of Hurricane Katrina.

At one point, the two were asked if there was anything about the president about which they approved. Both easily wiggled out of the question, saying they agreed with some of the promises made by President Bush, but regretted his failure to deliver on them.

"This president doesn't understand diplomacy," Cardin said about the war. On taxes, Cardin said, "This administration is the most irresponsible" in history.

"This president is wrong," Mfume said when asked about the war. "Like the president, I'm old enough to remember Vietnam. We left in shame."

Mfume, who is trailing Cardin in most polls, made more efforts to draw out differences between them in their positions on the war. Mfume called for an immediate withdrawal of troops, and Cardin recommended bringing 10,000 of the 138,000 troops stationed in Iraq home each month.

Mfume criticized Cardin's vote on an extension of the USA Patriot Act. Most pointedly, Mfume raised questions about what he said was the special interest financing of Cardin's campaign.

Cardin has accepted money from political action committees, while Mfume has said he would refuse those funds. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission FEC yesterday, Cardin has $1.6 million on hand, and Mfume has a little more than $300,000.

-- Washington Post Staff

By Washington Post staff  | September 1, 2006; 10:18 AM ET
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"Maryland Public Television, operating under rules established by the Leage [sic]of Women Voters, permitted only the two frontrunners, Ben Cardin and Kweisi Mfume, to participate."

How does MPT know who the front runners are? The election has even taken place yet. If we're going to rely on polls to make decisions, then let's just skip the election entirely and appoint the person with the highest poll numbers.

Posted by: MoCo | September 1, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Interesting, these 3 stooges seem very concerned about being included to protect their "democratic process", and not the other 12 yahoos that registered as well. Why aren't they concerned about Schaefer or Kauffman or Dickerson or anyone else.

If they are so interested in inclusion then they should be protesting on behalf of, or include, all 18 or nothing.

Since Maryland has no qualification to run for a party nomination other than filing the paperwork and paying the fee, there needs to be some control over these debates or else they turn into a circus.

The League of Women Voters is an independent organization that can invite whomever they want to debate.

Lichtmann's arrested for his little protest yesterday makes 2 Senate candidates arrested this election season (election is less than 9 weeks away, maybe we can get one more - I'm hoping for Steele, but I'm not that lucky).

Posted by: Not amused by antics | September 1, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Meant to say "The election has NOT even taken place yet."

Posted by: MoCo Corrected | September 1, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I don't really think the TV images last night helped Mr. Lichtman's candidacy but how stupid was it to arrest him in the first place? A MD public television station and the League of Women voters want to have a legitimate candidate for U.S. Senate and a College Professor arrested and charged for advocating for what he believed was his First Amendment Constitutional Rights? How ridiculous and ironic? I think they both ought to very work hard to drop the charges and end this debacle. I think Mr. Lichtman should review the TV tapes and see if his image was enhanced or diminished by the scene. Finally, I'll try to remember there is a fine line between principle and ego. I think the station, the League of Women Voters, and the candidate should consider that too.

Posted by: A different MoCo | September 1, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Damn, you can't buy this sort of entertainment!

Posted by: Rufus | September 1, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Thank you all for not making the obvious cheap jokes about Lichtman's wife yelling "Go limp, Allan, go limp". (C'mon now; I'm not the only one who thought it.)

Posted by: Pepe le moco | September 1, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"A standoff there lasted several long and tedious minutes, as Lichtman and his wife, Karyn Strickler, berated the guard, who was African American, by telling him that similar acts of civil disobedience helped his ancestors break free of the segregated south"

Just what we need in the Senate -- an egomaniac, married to another egomaniac, beating up on someone for simply doing their job, and injecting race in the matter for their own perverse benefit.

"Go limp, Allan!" should be his new campaign slogan.

Posted by: Michael Hilla | September 1, 2006 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Rales has saturated the airwaves with is TV commercials for weeks. He seems like a reasonable enough candidate. Why is he being excluded from the debates and all the press coverage? I'm a Virginia voter so I don't get a say in this anyway, but frankly he comes across as a better candidate than the two annointed by the media as the frontrunners.

Posted by: Glenn | September 1, 2006 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Rales can buy all the ads he wants, but he can't move his poll numbers up to a remotely viable candidacy. The reason is that he's a Republican running in a Democratic primary. Sure, he claims to have changed parties a couple of years back, but come on -- if you were a committed Republican (donating substantial amounts of $$ to Bush and others) as late as 2004, you're going to be hard-pressed to convince actual Democrats that you share their values. I can see it if the party switch happened a while back (a la Webb in VA), but post-2000, and especially post-2004? Please.

Posted by: Bethesda | September 1, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Rales could become a class act candidate if he withdrew from the race now. He doesn't have a chance to win but he could gain positive attention for future elections if he either 1) supported Cardin or Mfume, or 2) talked about how much faith he has in MD. voters to make the right choice and highlight what he believes are the important issues to consider. Either way, he could show himself off in a live press conference and leave a positive image with MD voters. (Don't we all wish that Ralf Nader had done one of these in 2000?)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2006 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Rales is a Republican. Lichtman's a nutcase. No wonder we don't want these 2 in debates. Go limp, doesn't need to be his new campaign slogan, I think its the state his campaign's been in for quite some time.

Posted by: E | September 1, 2006 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Limpy Allan - what a picture!

Posted by: Artur | September 1, 2006 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I would expect some outfit that calls itself Maryland PUBLIC Television to be willing to provide a fair, impartial playing field for ALL candidates, not for just the two that the political power brokers and their media stooges have decided to bless. MPT's record of favoring some political candidates over others is one reason I stopped giving them money. Judging by how much they have increased the time they spend begging, I must not be the only ex-contributor they have turned off.

Posted by: D.C. Russell | September 1, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The TV networks, both 'public' and private and LWV have long assisted in the emasculation of the former 'Equal time' FCC standard for federal elections, through just such ruses.

As another commentor noted LWV is a private organization, and can invite whoever they want. However, a strong case could be made that providing a forum for only selected candidates and pre-arranging extensive TV coverage of the affair constitutes a campaign contribution to the invited candidates with a monetary value arguably well in excess of legal limits.

To end the use of such undemocratic ruses, and diminish the role of money in politics it ought to be obvious that a condition of the licensing, for any media outlet in a jurisdiction, allotted control of our airwaves, ought to be a requirement to provide free of charge a reasonable and equal block of time to each and every legally qualified candidate to use as they see fit. If that seems too onerous in the case of 18 candidates, then the state can add a modest petitioning requirement to weed out the unserious.

Unlike McCain-Feingold and earlier legislation that only increased the role of money and media, a measure like that would constitute actual reform of a clearly broken system.

Posted by: Lbg Lawyer | September 1, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Ha. Washingtonpost deleted comments about Mfume having illegitimate kids and Cardin being a bum.

Way to go WaPo !!! The "Fox News" of print.

Posted by: UnFairandUnBalanced | September 1, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

You'll note below the following statement:

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site.

School-marmish perhaps, but Fox News, no.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | September 1, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but "Limp" jokes are okay. Must ... uphold ... the powerful ... people's ... view of the world. Must ... crush ... dissent. Mfume's ... indiscretions ... are ... inappropriate.


Posted by: UnFairandUnBalanced | September 1, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Despite all the questions over all the smaller candidates in this race, this debacle certainly at least goes to show the limits of our democracy. Whoever has the favor of the media wins the elections. Just the sad reality of things.

Posted by: MDL | September 1, 2006 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I experienced the objectivity of the League of Women Voters a few years ago. Pasternak, the Montgomery County government's Jack Abramoff liason man formed a committee after the last pre-general election campaign filing deadline, collected $50,000 from about l5 people and sent out mailings and phone messages against my term limits charter amendment in Montgomery County. The only name given in the phone messages was that the the phone message speaker, the president of the league of women voters. We didn't find out who paid for all those league voice messages until after the elec tion.
Lichtman perhaps should have sued instead of getting arrested, but he surely should have done something. Only 2 of l8 are allowed on the program? Don't send Maryland Public TV any money even if they have fifty minutes of financial pleas every hour of programming. Where is the Post's editorial outrage?

Posted by: Robin Ficker Independent for Montgomery County Executive | September 1, 2006 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that inappropriate comments about Mfume and Cardin were removed, but the comments above about Jerry Pasternak are going to be allowed to stand? This blog would hardly have any comments at all if "personal attacks" were actually removed. At least half of the comments posted contain personal attacks.

Posted by: what are those rules again? | September 2, 2006 2:35 AM | Report abuse

Allan and I were friends several years ago in Washington. He is a dedicated progressive and a good man! I wish him well and only wish I could assist him helping him now in this hour of need.

Posted by: gary solana | September 2, 2006 5:15 AM | Report abuse

The Mfume remark removed had an expletive that we don't use in our newspaper. At times, when possible, we'll excise just the offensive words or sentences if there is some larger point to the remaining message.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | September 2, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh no ... we don't allow that in our newspaper ...


Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Are you aware that Robin Ficker, who blogged above, beat both Leggett and Silverman in the mocopolitics poll of Montgomery County progressives published today? Results: Ficker 40%, Leggett 36%, Silverman, 22%. Google mocopolitics and see the results and comments.

Posted by: mocopolitics reader | September 2, 2006 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Basically, Lichtman did a "Bundley." When Dr. Bundley ran for mayor of Baltimore he got arrested for putting flyers on cars. He was told it was wrong, but a candidate gets more publicity if they get arrested. Out of the three candidates standing outside of MPT, Lichtman was the only one I did not hear about yet. I am voting for Kweisi Mfume anyway, but good try Lichtman.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2006 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it, someone actually has the balls to stand up for Maryland and its residents and you call them a "nutcase." It's no wonder politics have gone to hell, you all like to vote for the lazy rich morons who do squat. Instead of basing your views off "entertainment" from the local media, try visiting all of the candidates websites. I think you will find yourself sorely dissapointed in Cardin and Mfume's (lack of) detailed plans for actually accomplishing the ridiculous things they talk about. Allan on the other hand, has every view carefully laid out, ways to accomplish them, and methods of perserving the people's concerns through his would be term.

Posted by: Marc | September 3, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to connections/? Have they gone on vacation until after the elections?

Posted by: blog frog | September 4, 2006 7:55 AM | Report abuse

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