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Flier Inquiry Doesn't Fly

The U.S. Justice Department has apparently closed an inquiry into the distribution of misleading fliers on election day by the campaigns of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who was seeking an open Senate seat.

The fliers in question were passed out by homeless workers shipped in on Election Day. The glossy leaflets suggested that Ehrlich and Steele were backed by several prominent Democrats, and included a "Democratic Sample Ballot" that had boxes next to their names checked off.

Republicans said the fliers were an acceptable campaign tactic. Several have said privately they believe the Democrats are trying to exploit the issue to drive a wedge between African Americans who were targeted by the fliers and Republicans.

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced he has written to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to appeal the decision to drop the inquiry.

"I write to ask for further information about how this decision was reached, and to respectfully request that you review the Department's decision-making process in this instance to ensure that all possible legal bases for an investigation were considered," he wrote.

"The right to vote is perhaps our most essential civil right, the wellspring of our democracy. Unfortunately, the mid-term elections held on November 7, 2006, were tarnished by countless dirty tricks and ugly tactics. The ploy used in Maryland stands out for its sheer cynicism and brazenness."

By  |  November 30, 2006; 12:29 PM ET
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