Miller, Franchot Spar Over Slots
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., perhaps the leading proponent of legalizing slot machine gambling, made his feelings for slots foe and state Comptroller Peter Franchot crystal clear.
When Franchot arrived at the Rural Maryland Council's annual award banquet Thursday for his keynote address, Miller stood up and exited the hotel ballroom.
Within seconds, a Franchot aide came out to ask, "Senator Miller, do you have a few minutes for the comptroller?"
"No, not really," Miller replied, saying that he was busy answering questions from a Washington Post reporter.
Seconds later, Franchot walked towards Miller, but Miller warned him to keep his distance because a Post photographer was snapping pictures.
Then once Franchot left, Miller unloaded on the former delegate-turned-tax collector. Miller, who supports legalizing slots, noted that Franchot supported legalized gambling in 2001 before switching sides and is now campaigning against it.
"He's a chameleon," Miller said.
Miller then criticized Franchot for the public comments he is making regarding Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan.
"We only have one governor in the state, really," Miller said. "He's really shameless with what he does," he said of Franchot. "When we have a crisis, we need people to subjugate their egos for the goodness of the body. By definition, that's just not him."
Then Miller winked and left the hotel.
A few minutes later, delivering his keynote address, Franchot acknowledged Miller's absence: "Whenever I arrive, Senator Miller seems to leave, but I want to recognize him as a great leader."
When asked about Miller's criticism, Franchot said he is speaking out as the state's chief fiscal officer.
"I am not the governor and I'm not a legislator and all I'm doing is giving a fiscal perspective that slots is a dead-end solution," Franchot said. "I tell him, with all due respect, that if I agreed with him on slots he wouldn't have any problem with my speaking out."
Franchot then told a reporter to stay tuned. He will make a "major statement" next Tuesday regarding his views on slots and other budget issues.
-- Philip Rucker
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