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First Click, Maryland -- Full disclosure?

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Monday, August 30, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerThe closing days of last week in Maryland politics brought a spasm of voluntary disclosures. Though not required to do so by law, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) released several years of partial tax returns late Friday afternoon, and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) followed suit Saturday morning.

As my colleague Aaron C. Davis and I reported over the weekend, Ehrlich and his wife, Kendel, earned close to $2.5 million in the three years after he lost the governorship. In that same period, O'Malley and his wife, Katie, a District Court judge, collected over $900,000, and the couple is on pace to earn more than $1.2 million in state salary and pension payouts during his four years in the governor's mansion.

Kane unveiling.jpgBoth candidates touted their commitment to transparency. So, surely that commitment must extend to their running mates, whose sole constitutional duty is to be on standby to assume the powers of the governorship if needed. Well, apparently not.

Requests made Sunday to review the tax returns of lieutenant governor hopefuls Mary D. Kane and Anthony G. Brown were met with a "no" from the Ehrlich camp and a "maybe" from the O'Malley team.

"We will not release further tax returns," Ehrlich-Kane spokesman Andy Barth said in an email. "We have already disclosed more than is required and believe that is sufficient for voters to be well informed."

AGBinPG.jpgO'Malley-Brown spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said Brown, the sitting lieutenant governor, would consider the request. Brown's only income since his election in 2006 has been his LG salary and pay received as an Army reservist, Abbruzzese added.

This week in Maryland politics, there will be some other disclosures -- of the non-voluntary kind. The next round of campaign finance reports is due Friday, reflecting money collected and cash on hand as of Sunday.

Earlier this month, we learned that O'Malley had more than three times as much money in the bank as Ehrlich. Ehrlich seems to be angling to post a better showing this time.

"We wouldn't contact you on a Sunday unless we believed this fundraising deadline was a huge milestone," read an email received by Ehrlich supporters Sunday morning from Ehrlich finance co-chairs John Reith, Elaine Pevenstein and Dick Hug.

Besides Ehrlich's numbers, we're also eager to see what his GOP challenger, Brian Murphy, has done in recent weeks.

Murphy's endorsement by Sarah Palin came just days before the last fundraising period closed. If Murphy has seen a surge in post-Palin contributions, it's more likely to be reflected in this report.

In the meantime, we'll be standing by to hear whether we get to review Anthony Brown's tax returns.

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

Battlegrounds for governor geographic and demographic
"The gubernatorial contest between Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will likely be decided in a series of battleground territories -- both geographic and demographic," writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz. "If, as expected, they win their respective primaries on Sept. 14, each will focus his time and money chiefly on the populous Baltimore suburbs and on vote-rich Montgomery County, which, while left-leaning, is also home to Maryland's largest group of unaffiliated voters and a seldom-remarked trove of Republicans."

Top state Dems rally crucial Prince George's vote
Prince George's picnic.jpgMore than 400 people turned out Saturday for the 2nd Annual Prince George's Community BBQ, a chance for mostly Democratic politicians from Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on down to fire up supporters. The afternoon culminated with pep talks from Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and O'Malley, who pleaded for help from volunteers because he said Prince George's will be critical to the outcome of the governor's race in November. At times the picnic seemed more like a cheer contest between groups backing Democratic county executive candidates Sheriff Michael Jackson and councilman Sam Dean. A hodgepodge of underdog candidates for the General Assembly worked the crowd until the last of the stragglers left, but barely half of the county's incumbent delegation attended. -- Aaron C. Davis

Post endorses Benson, makes other Prince George's picks
Benson.jpgThe Post editorial board offered its endorsements Saturday in Prince George's County legislative races. Among the more notable: challenger Joanne C. Benson over the incumbent, Nathaniel Exum, in Senate District 24. The editorial says Sen. Exum "has a terrible reputation in Annapolis, which is richly deserved. Despite his long years as a lawmaker, he has no significant leadership role in the Senate, and for good reason: He is widely regarded as an obstructionist who wields the race card as a cudgel. His major achievements are few, unless you consider what he's helped block -- for instance, a rescue package for Prince George's Hospital. A better choice is Del. Joanne C. Benson, a 20-year veteran of the House who's fought against human trafficking and domestic violence and was instrumental in enacting Maryland's seat-belt law."

Well-connected Lierman lists big-name donors
Kyle Lierman.jpg"Even in politically charged Montgomery County, candidate Kyle Lierman's donor list stands out," writes The Post's Miranda Spivack. "Former presidential candidate Howard Dean. Irene Pollin, widow of real estate and sports mogul Abe Pollin. Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus. Political commentator and Roll Call executive editor Morton Kondracke. Not what you might expect from a 23-year-old business major who less than a year ago was still hitting the books at George Washington University."

Fenty re-election bid in District in trouble, Post poll finds
Mayor poll graphic.jpgMaryland's next governor could have a new counterpart in Washington, D.C. "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is foundering in his reelection bid against his chief opponent, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, despite a widespread sense that the city is heading in the right direction, according to a new Washington Post poll," write The Post's Nikita Stewart and Jon Cohen. "With early voting beginning Monday in the Sept. 14 primary, Gray is clearly ahead, leading Fenty 49 to 36 percent among all Democratic voters surveyed. Gray's advantage swells to 17 points, 53 to 36 percent, among those most likely to vote in the primary."

Quotables

Nancy King.jpg"We eat our own in Montgomery County."
-- Sen. Nancy King (D-Montgomery), one of several Democrats facing competitive primary challenges in Montgomery County, as reported by the Associated Press

"Get rid of the incumbents -- both sides. Get 'em out."
-- Bob Nigh, a retired aluminum plant worker from Hagerstown, who attended an event Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial organized by conservative commentator Glenn Beck, as reported by The Baltimore Sun

Parting Shot

Irish11.jpgGov. Martin O'Malley took the stage and sang a handful of Irish folk songs (and checked his BlackBerry) at a campaign stop in Gambrills on Sunday night. See more photos on Facebook. (Photo by Aaron C. Davis)

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics each Monday and Thursday. You can also find First Click on Facebook and Twitter.


By John Wagner  |  August 30, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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