University System Apologizes On Duncan's Behalf
The University System of Maryland said today that former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) has apologized for news reports in which he suggested he was forced to back out of a political forum next month at the direction of Gov. Martin O'Malley's office.
Duncan, who challenged O'Malley for the Democratic nomination in 2006, currently serves as vice president for administration and finance at the University of Maryland College Park.
The Washington Times and Hagerstown Herald-Mail both reported allegations by Duncan this week that P.J. Hogan, the University system's top lobbyist, had relayed a directive from the governor's office for Duncan to drop out of the forum.
Duncan was scheduled to appear at the Oct. 14 forum in Hagerstown with former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), whom O'Malley defeated in the 2006 general election.
"[Hogan] told me the governor's office said I cannot go ... and talk about presidential politics at the same time as Bob Ehrlich," Duncan was quoted as saying in the Times.
The Times reported that Duncan believed he could be fired if he attended.
In both reports, Hogan, a former Democratic state senator from Montgomery County, said Duncan had misinterpreted friendly advice and that he had not acting on behalf of O'Malley's office.
Neither Duncan nor Hogan returned calls from The Washington Post this afternoon.
"Duncan recognizes now that he misinterpreted informal advice from a friend and colleague as an official directive," said a statement issued jointly this afternoon by the university system and College Park campus. "Duncan has apologized to Hogan for the misunderstanding and takes full responsibility for the misunderstanding and the resulting confusion."
The statement said that Duncan and Hogan have "shaken hands, put the incident behind them and are continuing their work together."
O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese referred questions to the university system.
In the statement, the system said that Duncan was not ordered to cancel his appearance. "To the contrary, [the system and College Park] recognize and honor Maryland state employees' right to freely participate in any personal political activity during time outside of working hours."
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