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Sharp Words in the AG, Comptroller Races

In the final days before Tuesday's primary, campaigning has suddenly gotten a lot uglier in the races for state attorney general and comptroller.

Stu Simms, the Baltimore lawyer who entered the AG's race late and led a quiet campaign at first, has suddenly found his voice in attacking Montgomery County State's Attorney Doug Gansler for a reprimand issued three years ago by the Court of Appeals.

Simms raised the matter at a news conference Tuesday, which coincided with the release of a flyer accusing Gansler of being more interested in "mugging for the cameras" than prosecuting criminals. Check Simms' Web site and you'll find an "About Gansler" section that's all about the case.

Gansler was chided for talking to the press about the details of evidence against suspects in two high-profile murder cases before their trials. Gansler has promised to abide by the court's rules but has said the reprimand came in retaliation for his comments about a circuit judge in Montgomery.

Gansler's Web site, meanwhile, has no section on Simms.

In the comptroller's race, an unrepentant William Donald Schaefer continued to disparage the physical attributes of his challenger, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens, calling her fat and "no spring chicken." ((Owens is 62, Schaefer, 84).

Schaefer's comments seem to have been the last straw for some female activists, who have started an e-mail chain letter to try to defeat him.

Karen White, campaign manager for former governor Parris N. Glendening (D) and now national political director of Emily's List, which raises money for female candidates, is one of four women who signed the letter and set up an e-mail account, schaefermustgo@9yahoo.9com. It calls Schaefer a "sexist dinosaur."

"Schaefer's crude insults, though targeted at one woman, are an offense to all women," the letter says. "It should horrify any woman that he wishes to continue serving in one of the state's highest offices."

The letter doesn't state a preference for Owens or Montgomery County Del. Peter Franchot, the other Democrat in the race.

White, in addition to being an outraged woman, is the wife of political consultant Rob Johnson, who is doing some work for Owens.

Steve Vogel and Robert Barnes

By Phyllis Jordan  |  September 8, 2006; 7:30 AM ET
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Next: Beyond the Primary


Oh I don't know if Schaefer's comments to the Queen of Sprawl, Janet Owens, were any more insulting then her's to him...but I do know this: Janet Owens told me I was fat once but I guess it was OK, since she is a woman insulting a man!

This woman has no problem insulting people when she wants too AND she is loving this press!!!!! Every voter needs to get a life and vote for the BEST, hard working and HONEST person for the job! Certainly not someone who lays off our First Responders, the police officers as Ms. Owens did!

Posted by: insulted? | September 8, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Montgomery Countians need to vote for our own interests for a change. Baltimore City has had two U,S. Senators since l987. Why should we extend that string for six more years? We need money for Metro. Gansler, Franchot, and Rales (with Lichtman my second choice) deserve the support of every Montgomery County Primary voter and will give us the clout our numbers deserve statewide. We have never had a state wide official elected on his own from Montgomery County.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Independent for Montgomery County Executive | September 8, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Robin, don't say that endorsement too loud. If it ended up in the papers, I'm pretty sure Gansler, Franchot, Rales, and Lichtman would lose a whole lot of votes.

Hey Phyllis, any chance you guys might start using YouTube or something similar soon. I like the links, but there aren't enough visuals in the blog posts.

Posted by: E in MC | September 8, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm happy to post any YouTube links. There's one on the Lichtman in jail item below and an earlier Donna Edwards item. You can post them on here and i'll attach them to the blog items

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | September 8, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

This was posted on MyDD last night...will the Post pick up the lead and investigate...voters need to know just how corrupt Al Wynn really is before Tuesday!

Al Wynn and His Hidden Political Cash Register
by Matt Stoller, Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 08:42:59 PM EST

I promised you some dirt on Al Wynn, and so here goes. It's not sex, but it is a process story that explains a bit how Wynn's political machine is structured and guarded from view. This Congressman has a strange and disturbing pattern of breaking campaign finance laws to hide the identities of the people funneling money into his campaigns. It's not that he makes mistakes, or misreports a donor here or there. Al Wynn simply choose not to follow campaign finance laws. There's obviously sloppiness here, but the pattern of flouting the rules goes so far back and is so extensive that it's hard to conclude that it isn't intentionally done to hide his funding sources.

There are the cosmetic problems, where Wynn flouts the law to hide at least part of the identify of his donors. I'm looking through his filings, and I see some big donations from Harold Ford Sr, Donnie Fowler Sr, and the chief of staff of the Governor of Maryland. Not so strange. What's weird is that Wynn is getting $2000 donation after $2000 donation from people whose employers and job titles are listed only as 'information requested'. I haven't counted how many donors he didn't collect information from, but this is not a new pattern; in 2003, the FEC fined Wynn for not listing the occupation or employer of over 51% of his donors. That's a big deal, because it means that it's very difficult to trace or report on conflicts of interest. Given the amount of developer, energy PAC, and telecom PAC money he's already getting, it's nearly impossible to tell if someone at a company is making all their employees give to Wynn by looking through public filings. Wynn simply doesn't list the employers or jobs for many of his big donors.

And then there's the campaign problem, where Wynn radically underreports the amount of money he's taking in. On his original July 15th Quarterly Report, Wynn reported receiving $61,582.69 in contributions between April 1, 2006 and June 30, 2006. Two days later, he filed an amended report saying he actually received $107,132.69 - almost double what he originally reported. Two weeks later he filed yet another version of his July 15th Quarterly Report saying he actually raised $157,275.69. Last week the FEC sent a letter asking him to explain these discrepancies and threatening an audit of his political committee.

What you have to understand here is that this is a political game. Wynn has until September 29, 2006 to provide the FEC with an explanation, which is after the primary date. In other words, Wynn is betting that hiding his donor identities and breaking the law will net him a fine, but he'll be able to pay that fine after the primary election with money he can raise as a sitting Congressman. If he actually complied with the law, he'd have to answer to voters about who's giving him money. This way, he can face the FEC rather than the voters, and he knows how to handle the FEC.

His willingness to tangle with the FEC and flout campaign finance laws is not new. In 2000, Wynn was forced to return contributions from MSFBDA Management Group, a company that laundered money through its employees to Wynn. Corporate contributions to Federal candidates are illegal, so what this company did is pay three of its officers and then those officers turned around and gave the money to Wynn. That's a no-no for obvious reasons. This history is particularly disturbing given that Wynn is continuing to not report the employers and jobs of many of his large donors. Is there another corporate contribution scandal here? Perhaps, but it's almost impossible to figure it out because he's just not reporting the information like he's legally required to.

There's more. That year, Wynn's campaign was one of 45 campaigns that failed to file a pre-General election report. In 2001, he was fined for filing his report late. This might be sloppiness, but it's the kind of sloppiness that comes from having contempt for Federal agencies in general.

As far as I can tell, here's what this means. Al Wynn is a central figure in the Maryland political machine. One of his key advisors, Julius Henson, dominates the political environment in the district, scaring politicians with his tactics, his willingness to break the law, and his vindictive reputation. It's not a surprise that two of Wynn's staffers beat up a Donna Edwards volunteer at an event, since rumors of thuggery are coming in from all over, and this jibes with Henson's MO. The FEC lawbreaking bit fills in an important piece of the puzzle, since it shows how Wynn finances Henson's tactics. It's not just that Wynn is awash in contributions from Walmart, right-wing corporate sources, and developers, it's that he systematically hides the workings of his cash machine from the public, violating campaign finance laws consistently over a pattern of many years.

This is fascinating and disturbing stuff, and it's a good argument for why we need lots more primaries. Had Donna Edwards not challenged Al Wynn, we would never know the workings of Wynn's machine. We wouldn't be able to connect Wynn's legislative support of the telecom companies to his contempt for disclosure laws meant to serve the public to his support for Bush's energy policies to his support for local developpers. But because Donna stepped up to the plate, now we know what we're up against.

There's a machine out there, a whole network of bad people serving themselves by serving members of Congress like Wynn who are openly flouting both the law and the public. We've got to bring them down. And that's not a conservative or liberal point, it's just the right thing to do.

Permalink :: 16 Comments
Tags: Donna Edwards, Al Wynn, Maryland, machine, net neutrality (all tags)

Posted by: Rebecca Howard | September 8, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

And take a look at statements by County Councilmember Tom Perez about how Steve Silverman has been campaigning.

˜Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they're not entitled to their own set of facts," said one of the four, Councilman Thomas E. Perez, repeating a phrase Silverman uses frequently."

"I wish he'd listen to his own words," said Perez (D-Dist. 5) of Takoma Park. ˜Steve has a major track record of saying one thing and doing another” or being a latecomer at best on such issues as supporting the living wage."


Posted by: | September 8, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey there insulted?
Stop lying on this blog. Janet Owens would NEVER personally insult someone like you claim. If its true, whats your name? I will check on it this afternoon and get back to you as to the circumstances on which you claim this happened. You Liar. Shame on you.

Posted by: brendan | September 8, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

So what you're saying about Janet Owens is that she did not go to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there,
The cupboard was bare,
So the poor little doggie had none?

Posted by: Father Hubbard | September 8, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The mailer he sent out was garbage. He has not offered anything positive. He is the status quo.

The Post, the Capital, the Baltimore City Paper, the Gazette, the League of Conservation Voters, NARAL, have all endorsed Gansler for a reason. He's a loudmouth, but he is our loudmouth and he will represent change and innovation.

Posted by: Simms has no agenda | September 8, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Simms should be ashamed of himself for mailing a piece with flagrant lies and mischaracterizations -- especially when he tries to portray himself as the dignified candidate of integrity. Take a close look at how the two campaigns have been run. Gansler has a specific agenda. Simms has none -- by his own admission, he just wants to keep doing what the office is doing. Gansler has not gone negative on Simms and didn't on Perez, even though both have on him. Gansler has been careful not to stick up lawn signs in illegal locations -- Simms has done it all over the State (in Catonsville, residents complained about all the signs along Rolling Road and the police removed them). And Gansler has been scrupulous about his campaign finance compliance (admittedly easier for him) -- Simms, on the other hand, is spending tens of thousands of dollars in the final days that he clearly must be getting from sources other than his campaign account, which had 60 or so at the end of August.

So voters will decide which candidate has more integrity and can be trusted to run an effective and well-managed AG Office. We all know who that will be -- Gansler.

Posted by: Simms is a hypocrite | September 8, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Simms' campaign manager is Larry Gibson, an old-style, in the gutter, political boss, with decades of history in using slimy race-baiting (in favor of blacks) and dirty, corrupt tactics in Baltimore City. We'll see if it can work statewide, but it says a lot about Simms that he's turned the keys to his campaign over to Gibson and given him the green light to do his thing.

Posted by: What He Said | September 8, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm What He Said from above. Now that Simms is out there with ugly campaigning, there's a story to be written about Larry Gibson, his campaign manager. I'm happy to provide some leads in this and subsequent posts. Here's a start, from a 1998 Baltimore City Paper article --

"Predictably, Glendening's campaign spokesperson, Peter Hamm, has a somewhat different take on the incident. 'We've heard a number of gripes and complaints about the alarming number of posters that Larry Gibson has put up in the Baltimore area . . . in inappropriate places that are a little bit sacred, like the Board of Elections. This is vintage Larry Gibson style--he plays fast and loose with the rules. We hope the public keeps city government advised of violations that are taking place.'

The Nose has to wonder whether the Glendening camp was so concerned about Gibson's fastness and looseness four years ago, but nevertheless we'll keep our eyes peeled for future sightings."

Predictably, Glendening's campaign spokesperson, Peter Hamm, has a somewhat different take on the incident. "We've heard a number of gripes and complaints about the alarming number of posters that Larry Gibson has put up in the Baltimore area . . . in inappropriate places that are a little bit sacred, like the Board of Elections. This is vintage Larry Gibson style--he plays fast and loose with the rules. We hope the public keeps city government advised of violations that are taking place."

The Nose has to wonder whether the Glendening camp was so concerned about Gibson's fastness and looseness four years ago, but nevertheless we'll keep our eyes peeled for future sightings.

Posted by: Larry Gibson Exposee | September 8, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Race-baiting, brought to you by the Campaign Manager for Mr. Integrity and Holier-than-Thou, Stuart Simms.

Also from the Baltimore City Paper (this Gibson research is too easy).

"Remember the old MAYOR SCHMOKE MAKES US PROUD campaign signs? Black, red, and green; looked suspiciously like the Pan-African colors of the Marcus Garvey-created flag? Any number of commentators noted that, in the 1996 campaign Kurt Schmoke and campaign manager Larry Gibson waged against Mary Pat Clarke, Gibson had likely crunched the numbers and realized that the best way to win was to appeal to the black voter--that with Baltimore's predominantly black population, Schmoke could win re-election with very little support from the white community.
Dipping into the dusty old bin that contains the Political Animal Record Archives (it also contains a HUGHES FOR GOVERNOR hat, a WHIP INFLATION NOW button, two old J.R.L. Stearne columns from The Sun, and a cat hairball), we find the notes from an interview with a Schmoke campaign staffer who shall remain nameless, who said the colors on the signs stood for 'the green of Baltimore's trees, the red for the blood of its heroes . . .' and so on.

In other words, pure horsecrap.

Posted by: Larry Gibson Exposee | September 8, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

From a 1998 WaPo profile, apropos Gibson and Eileen Rehrmann's campaign for Gov in 1998.

With the prospect of another close associate, Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, also jumping to Rehrmann's ship, Gibson is finding his own motives under attack by Glendening and his supporters. Glendening allies suggest darkly that Gibson's dramatic turnabout can be explained by one thing: a desire to bring slot machines to Maryland and get a piece of the take for himself.

Gibson and Schmoke say Glendening reneged on an agreement to allow slots at Maryland racetracks, with some of the revenue funding city schools. Gibson has worked for Maryland racetrack owner Joseph A. De Francis, a strong advocate of slots at the racetracks. De Francis said Gibson's role in a promotional campaign for the racing industry ended months ago.

Schmoke, meanwhile, is close to baking magnate John Paterakis, who wants to bring slot machines to a downtown Baltimore hotel he is developing.

While Gibson says he has no "continuing relationship" with De Francis, Glendening is hammering away at the Gibson-Schmoke-slots connection.

"The mayor and the executive [Curry] are very much controlled by one individual, Larry Gibson," Glendening said Friday on the Baltimore-based Marc Steiner radio show. "I've had an outpouring of people who are very, very angry about the prospect of bringing slots and casinos here."

. . . .

Supporters say Gibson is a savvy political operative, slipping easily between gritty street campaigning and $1,000-per-person fund-raisers for U.S. presidents and governors. Critics, however, say Gibson's political prowess is overrated. Some portray him as an angry black man who promotes policies that foster distrust between black and white voters and is seeking to hoard political power for himself.

"He's a racist," said former Democratic governor William Donald Schaefer, a longtime Gibson foe.


OK, these are political enemies, but Schaeffer was in control of his faculties then, and Gibson had shown time and again his willingness to play the race card.

Posted by: Larry Gibson Exposee | September 8, 2006 5:44 PM | Report abuse


That pretty much sums up Franchot's positions on issues relating to the duties and responsibilities of the Comptroller, doesn't it?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 9, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

To Phyllis Jordan: Why did the Post decide to shut down any discussion of the Montgomery County Executive race on the two weeks before the Primary when voter interest is most intense?

Posted by: Post reader | September 9, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If you can fill-in this sentance, THEN STOP POSTING ON THIS BOARD. "Vote . . . ., cause . . . ."

Posted by: Inside Man | September 9, 2006 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Larry Gibson is an "old style, in the gutter, political boss." Compared to the way is which the Post has tried to dictate its choice of Leggett as Montgomery County Executive, Larry Gibson looks like a little angel.

Posted by: Post reader | September 10, 2006 4:24 AM | Report abuse

In this campaign, Phyllis Jordan has commented on just about anything, and usually shortly after her name was invoked. So why did the Post shut down any postings about the county executive race in Montgomery County with a couple of exceptions the last few months before the Primary? This seat is open for the first time in twelve years. Why has turned out the lights?What's up Phyllis? Aren't the editors trying to dictate the choice of Leggett and taking "a we just don't want to hear it" attitude about the blog?

Posted by: In Agreement | September 10, 2006 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Give me a break. I took Saturday off. I'm working today. The Leggett-Silverman race falls under the purview of our sister blog, the County Connection, and I don't moderate that one. The reporters have certainly produced a lot of copy for the daily, a good story today, as well as a piece on the Prince George's exec race.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | September 10, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Jordan, don't let Robin Ficker get on your matter what name he uses.

Posted by: Pepe le Moco | September 11, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Your column states the remarks that Willie Don made but not that he was responding to the Queen of Sprawl's, Janet Owens first attack on him about his being too old and "It's time" for him to go. As a senior citizen I too would have responded in some way! Also you state that the "Emily's List" people lauched a campaign against Willie Don but did not endorse any other candidate: Well the fact is that "Emily's List" was founded for the sole purpose of electing WOMEN! DUH!

Posted by: AA Taxpayer | September 11, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Yah it'd probably be fair the WaPo included what WDS claimed was the motive behind his sharp words: Janet Owen's insult to him. I think just giving one side of the story here isn't being very fair with readers. Owens said he was like the Grandpa you need to take the keys away from. Then Owen's and her supporters act all surprised when Schaefer takes a personal insult personally and responds in kind. I think he could've (and arguably should've) stayed above the fray, but to pretend he's the only one throwing barbs is ridicuously wrong.

Posted by: Bryan | September 11, 2006 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance to the Queen and her lackeys. Maryland dodged a bullet.

Posted by: AA Resident | September 13, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Time's Up, Janet Owens!!

Posted by: AA taxpayer | September 13, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Just in case no one knew, I was called a liar by someone named Brendon...just so happens that Janet Owens son has the same name. But I am certain someone with a mother who believes in treating people with respect and dignity would never call anyone a liar. So I guess it was someone else and not the Queens son. For the record: I spoke the truth! Thank goodnes the voters know the truth too!

Posted by: Insulted | September 13, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Now that the development lampreys have gotten their fill from the Queen, who will they choose as their next host?

Posted by: AA Resident | September 13, 2006 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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