Md. Democrats complain that Ehrlich's radio show is an illegal 'infomercial'
The Maryland Democratic Party complained to the state elections board Tuesday that former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s weekly radio show amounts to an "infomercial" that violates campaign-finance rules.
Ehrlich (R) and his wife, Kendel, have co-hosted a two-hour show on Saturday mornings since 2007, shortly after Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) took office. Ehrlich, who announced a rematch with O'Malley two weeks ago, plans to continue the show on Baltimore's WBAL until July, the deadline for formally filing as a candidate with the State Board of Elections.
Ed Kiernan, WBAL's general manager, said Tuesday that the station is under no obligation to take Ehrlich off the air before he files for office. Once Ehrlich files, the station would be required to offer equal time to other gubernatorial contenders if Ehrlich stays on the air, under Federal Communications Commission rules.
"We are doing the right thing by leaving him on the air -- not a problem," Kiernan said.
The Democratic Party takes a different view. The party contends that Ehrlich is receiving an estimated $18,000 in free air time each week -- which it says amounts to an illegal in-kind campaign contribution from WBAL.
"Bob Ehrlich has repeatedly shown he's more interested in his personal and political gain than he is in following the law," Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan W. Turnbull said in a statement Tuesday.
Jared DeMarinis, director of the candidacy and campaign finance division of the elections board, said he had received the complaint and was seeking advice from the state Attorney General's Office on how to proceed.
Both Ehrlich and the Maryland Republican Party downplayed the matter.
"It's another day. It's another complaint," Ehrlich told reporters after an event in Baltimore. Democrats have previously complained to the state elections board that Ehrlich is misusing resources of his law firm to run for office.
Audrey E. Scott, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party, said the complaint demonstrated "how desperate they are to change the subject from Martin O'Malley's abysmal legacy of record job losses, record budget deficits and record tax increases."
"If the O'Malley team spent half as much time helping to create jobs as they do slinging mud, Maryland's unemployment rate might not be so high," she said.
April 20, 2010; 3:07 PM ET
| Tags: Martin O'Malley, Robert Ehrlich, WBAL
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