Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Ehrlich's Mouthpiece Walks the Dog(s)

Jervis S. Finney, Bob Ehrlich's attorney, has 30 days from some point after February 8th to release information on the Steffen/MD4Bush deal. If he does reveal that information it will come exactly 5 months earlier than O'Malley did when asked by his friends at the Sun for expense information for trips to NYC to find each of his 5 chiefs of police. It takes time to make, er, find all those receipts don't you know.

Annawho, here's the latest from the Sun and Post. They've put this sucker on the back burner except for Finney offering info which could amount to death by a thousand cuts. So what do the MD Dems do? That's right, they say the lawyer's too close.

Time for an investigation! (Right?)
Ehrlich Aide's Computer Seized in O'Malley Probe

By Matthew Mosk

Thursday, March 3, 2005; Page B05

The Maryland attorney general's office has seized the computer hard drive of the aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. who was fired after publicly discussing his efforts to spread rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D).

Maryland Insurance Administrator Al Redmer told a legislative subcommittee that on Feb. 9, the day Joseph Steffen was fired, the attorney general's office took control of the computer assigned to him and is combing through the documents found there. Steffen was working as communications director for the insurance agency.

"It's in the possession of the attorney general's office, literally under lock and key," Redmer said, after being questioned about Steffen by Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the insurance agency's budget.

Redmer said the Ehrlich administration is preparing to release copies of Steffen's electronic mail and other files that might shed light on his activities while at the agency.

Ehrlich has acknowledged that Steffen was trading in gossip on a conservative Web site from the aide's state computer, while on state time.

Public Smo king Ban

Smoking would be banned in most indoor public areas in Maryland under a bill heard yesterday in a House committee.

The measure, sponsored by Del. Barbara A. Frush (D-Prince George's), would prohibit smoking in restaurants, bars and most venues for live indoor performances. It would not apply to private homes, automobiles or hotel rooms.

A similar measure failed in committee last year and is under consideration in a Senate committee. Among the bill's opponents are Restaurant Association of Maryland, which contends that business at Maryland restaurants would be hindered by the law, and that "compelling evidence has shown that smoking bans are extremely costly to the hospitality industry."

The industry association has said that a similar ban in Montgomery County has led to "significant losses" for sports bars and smaller restaurants.

"Existing law gives people the option," said Melvin Thompson, vice president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland. "If you don't want to go into a smoking restaurant, you don't have to."

Montgomery County officials enacted a smoking ban that took effect in October 2003. County Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg) said data show that restaurant-sales tax receipts in Montgomery have increased 7.6 percent since the ban was enacted.

Andrews said in an interview that because secondhand smoke has been shown to contribute to illness and death, banning smoking is a public-health obligation.

"It's the duty of public officials to protect the public health," he said. "We don't allow restaurant owners to choose whether to provide safe food, and we shouldn't allow them to choose whether to provide safe air."

Andrews said that though there appears to be support for the measure in the House, the real fight for the bill will be in the Senate Finance Committee, where the proposal previously was defeated.

Bribery Probe

The Maryland attorney general's office has charged a former state Department of Transportation official with receiving bribes.

Chrissy Martin, who worked in the State Highway Administration, allegedly received hundreds of dollars of gift certificates -- good for use at such businesses as Outback Steakhouse and Victoria's Secret -- from Stone Cold Chemicals, a janitorial and maintenance supply company, between January 2002 and February 2003, attorney general spokesman Kevin Enright said.

The charges are filed in Howard County Circuit Court, Enright said.

This week, the attorney general's office accused a former Division of Corrections official of receiving bribes from the same company between October 2002 and February 2003.

Efforts last night to reach Martin or determine whether she has an attorney were unsuccessful.

Staff writer David Snyder contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Seize this honkus.

Steffen had ties to Ehrlich inner circle, e-mails suggest

Lawmakers renew calls for independent probe

By Ivan Penn
Sun Staff

March 5, 2005

Annapolis lawmakers renewed calls yesterday for an independent investigation of the Ehrlich administration's management practices after e-mail messages released this week suggested that a state worker fired for spreading rumors about Mayor Martin O'Malley had ties to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s inner circle.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh and Del. Peter Franchot, Montgomery County Democrats, said several e-mails sent and received by fired worker Joseph F. Steffen indicate that he was more than what the Ehrlich administration termed a "rogue operation."

In e-mails given to The Sun and other news organizations -- and unrelated to the O'Malley rumors -- Steffen describes himself as "a special assistant to the governor" and as someone "specifically directed by the governor" to speak to management and personnel issues.

Several of Steffen's e-mails to a Department of Human Resources official were copied to such senior Ehrlich administration officials as appointments secretary Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.; Mary Beth Carozza, deputy chief of staff; and chief counsel Jervis S. Finney, who is heading the probe of Steffen's activities.

Ehrlich fired Steffen last month after it came to light that he contributed to spreading rumors on a conservative Web site about O'Malley's marriage. Steffen has been criticized for fostering fear among workers and generating a list of who would be fired.

Steffen could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I think it's time for an independent investigation of the integrity of the governor's office," Franchot said yesterday. "Mr. Finney is involved with these e-mails, and there are probably hundreds of other e-mails."

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said legislative leaders would have a statement Tuesday in response to the e-mails.

The Ehrlich administration said yesterday that Steffen wrongly described in his e-mails the authority that he wielded within the human resources department, where he was working. Administration officials also said Steffen never held a position as "special assistant to the governor."

Moreover, the administration insisted that Finney is the appropriate person to conduct the inquiry into Steffen's activities.

"The administration is confident in the progress of the investigation and asks that it be allowed to continue before any rash decisions are made," said Shareese DeLeaver, an Ehrlich spokeswoman.

In his response to questions about his contact with Steffen, Finney said he was ensuring the agency ran smoothly as personnel issues were being considered. "My effort was to ask the people in the Department of Human Services to be sure to cooperate with each other in the governor's mission," Finney said.

Steffen mostly worked for the human resources and juvenile services departments, and the Maryland Insurance Administration.

The e-mails released this week included exchanges within the human resources department between September and December 2003. Most were exchanges between Steffen and Byron Harris, chief of staff to human resources Secretary Christopher J. McCabe, about personnel, meetings and management issues.

"Though it really doesn't need to be said, I have full authority, indeed I am at times directed/mandated, to contact individuals directly regarding meeting and other requests on behalf of the governor," Steffen wrote in a Dec. 12, 2003, e-mail to Harris.

But a spokesman for human resources said Steffen acted without the authority of the department.

Sun staff writer Sumathi Reddi contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun
Ehrlich's Ex-Aide Targeted
Special Legislative Committee to Probe Firings

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2005; Page B09

Maryland lawmakers will convene a special investigative committee to look into allegations that an aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. engaged in political dirty tricks and participated in what one House leader called "potentially illegal hiring and firing practices."

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said the probe will start in April, immediately after the legislature adjourns its regular 90-day session. He said that details of the inquiry have not been set but that it might be conducted with the help of an independent counsel, who would be granted subpoena power. "It's something we've never done, but we've never seen behavior like this," Busch said.

Busch said the investigation will focus on the activities of Joseph Steffen, a longtime Ehrlich aide who boasted in Internet postings of an orchestrated effort to "give float" to rumors that one of the governor's political rivals had an extramarital affair.

Busch said numerous state workers have contacted lawmakers and identified Steffen as one of several mid-level aides who allegedly moved from one state agency to another, making lists of people they believed were disloyal to Ehrlich (R) and should be fired.

Ehrlich aides have called those allegations nonsense, and Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said yesterday that while they welcome any inspection of Steffen's activities, the probe sounded "a lot more like a political sideshow."

"The vast majority of Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly are focused on the session," Fawell said. "That's where the speaker should be. The speaker should be focused on getting a slots bill to the governor's desk and not worried about grandstanding."

House and Senate leaders have said repeatedly that they do not want to embark on a political witch hunt. They said they reluctantly concluded that the investigation was warranted after seeing a Washington Post report last week about electronic mail released by the administration.

The documents suggested that Steffen had been given authority to operate outside the state bureaucracy's chain of command. On several occasions, Steffen wrote in e-mails that he was acting "on behalf of the governor," and even though he was assigned to the state Department of Human Resources, he signed his notes with the title special assistant to the governor.

In one e-mail to his then-boss, Byron J. Harris, chief of staff to Human Resources Secretary Christopher J. McCabe, Steffen wrote that he did not need the secretary's approval for any of his activities.

"Though it doesn't need to be said, I have full authority, indeed I am at times directed/mandated, to contact individuals directly regarding meetings and other requests on behalf of the governor," Steffen wrote.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles) called the documents troubling evidence "that what was going on was an abuse of power and office."

"Under the circumstances, I think the public would expect us to look into it," he said.

Busch said he was most troubled by fired state employees' allegations that they were tormented by Steffen, who referred to himself as the Prince of Darkness, and by others.

"This is about protecting the workforce of Maryland," Busch said. "I don't think decent people should be treated this way by someone who is nothing more than a second-rate Tony Soprano running around the Ehrlich administration."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

How convenient. The day after the legislature closes they're going to get their own Ken Starr and start asking what did you know and when did you know it? Please throw Ehrlich in the Briar Patch.

And here's my guess for likely MD4Bush candidate of the week: Siri Svaeren, webmistress for who in 2003 took a leave to "spend time with her family". Maybe that free time included haunting rightwing forums. Here's some background:

Prior to the 2002 election:

Registration is required and space is limited! To secure your space, complete the attached form and send by Tuesday, October 1 to Siri Svaeren at the Maryland Democratic Party via email at or fax 410-280-8882.

June 2003

Our Club has been very fortunate that Siri Svaeren took the initiative over a year ago to set up our web site. It has been a great source of public relations, information sharing - and bringing in new members!

(and the hope for some free time!) Siri is stepping aside. We want to thank her very, very

much for her hard work and creativity. We also want to welcome and thank Jim Metzler

who has agreed to step in and take over the site. We are fortunate to have such talented people in our Club. Check the web site out at

October 2003

Sunday, October 19th from 3 pm to 6 pm, Tom Quirk and Siri Svaeren will host a house party to benefit the League of Conservation Voters. Their home address is 1402 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville MD 21228.

For more information, please email Tom and Siri. More information is available on the League of Conservation Voters website.

Then again, Mr. Franchot from Takoma Park is a good pick. He likes Duncan and he hates slots. Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 26, 2005


More Names...

Here’s another list of names in MD politics and the Democrat Party in particular; followed by O’Malley’s current staff:


Feb. 2001:

Parris N. Glendening


Wayne L. Rogers


Mary Jo Neville


Isiah Leggett


Carole Fisher


Kenneth O. Wilson


Democratic National

Committee Members

Glenard S. Middleton, Sr.

Gregory Pecoraro

Beatrice Tignor

Susan Turnbull

Ann Beegle


May 2002

Parris N. Glendening


Wayne L. Rogers


A. Cathlyn Farrow


Isiah Leggett


Carole Fisher


Kenneth O. Wilson


Democratic National

Committee Members

Glenard S. Middleton, Sr.

Gregory Pecoraro

Beatrice Tignor

Susan Turnbull

Ann Beegle


Jan. 2003

Isiah Leggett


Sue Hecht


Keiffer Mitchell, Jr.


Karren Pope-Onwukwe


Gary Gensler


Democratic National

Committee Members

Glenard S. Middleton, Sr.

Gregory Pecoraro

Beatrice Tignor

Susan Turnbull

Ann Beegle


Jul 2003

Isiah Leggett


Sue Hecht


Keiffer Mitchell, Jr.


Karren Pope-Onwukwe


Gary Gensler


Democratic National

Committee Members

Glenard S. Middleton, Sr.

Gregory Pecoraro

Beatrice Tignor

Susan Turnbull

Josh White


Feb 2005

From the City of Baltimore’s website - Organizational Chart (Department heads noted with staff following:

Martin O’Malley - Mayor

Charline Gilbert – Executive Assistant

Clarence T. Bishop – Chief of Staff

Jennifer Barker – Special Assistant

Latrice Hicks – Assistant

Jeanne Hitchcock – Deputy Mayor Intergovernmental Relations

Tasha McNutt – Assistant

Yolanda Winkler-Dyson – Deputy Director Intergovernmental Relations

Thomas Hickey – Fiscal Analyst

Angela Gibson – Legislative Liason to City Council

Annabelle Sher – Special Assistant Education

Shella Wyche - Secretary

Michael Enright – First Deputy Mayor

Karen Taylor – Executive Assistant

Christina Caldwell – Assistant

Colm O’Comartun – Special Assistant

Matt Gallagher – Director CitiStat Operations

Michael Powell – Technical Director

Andrew Lauland – Staff Analyst

Christopher Thomaskutty – Staff Analyst

Dourakine Roserlan – Staff Analyst

Lindsay Major – GIS Analyst

Sam Snowden – Field Analyst

Israel Patcka – Director Office of Neighborhoods

Karen Monath – Assistant to the Director

Sharon McCoughty – Staff Assistant

Tony White – Director Neighborhood Communications

Karen Doles – Office Assistant

Tony Bridges – Neighborhood Liason

Tiffany James – Neighborhood Liason

Jermaine Martez Johnson – Neighborhood Liason

Jennifer Mielke – Neighborhood Liason

Elizabeth Welblen – Neighborhood Liason

Kevin Cleary – Cooridinator, Operations Crime Watch

Vacant – Assistant Coordianator, Operations Crime Watch

Richard Burlon – Citywide Community Liason

Theresa Hall – Office Assistant

Reggie Epps – Office Assistant

Jose Rutz – Hispanic Liason

Lorena Bertran – Assistant

Eunba Kwon – Korean Liason

Steve Kearney – Director Policy & Communications

Raquel Guillory – Press Secretary

Rick Abbruzzese – Deputy Press Secretary

Caitlin Ring – Special Assistant

Frank Perrelli – Web Master

Jay Baker – Photographer

Irene Desantis – Secretary

Dominick Murray – Director Economic and Neighborhood Development

Rebecca Mules – Director Scheduling

Connie Page Barnes – Assistant Scheduling Officer

David Costello – Director Community Investment

Joyce Richardson – Secretary

Judy Orlinsky – Director International Affairs

Mary Ann Young – Assistant

Samuel Lloyd – Director Minority Business Development

Andrea Garris – Deputy Director Minority Business Development

Myra Blanchard – Executive Assistant

Bill Pencek – Director Baltimore City Heritage

Abbi Wicklein-Bayne – Administrator

Executive Protection – (see other support)

Carol Cordial – Director Administration

Debra Green – Chief Constituent Services

Tracey Wright – Office Assistant

Thomas Williams – Office Assistant

William Calhoun – Office Assistant

Doris Spriggs – Office Assistant

Glenda McKinney – Office Assistant (Reception)

Ellen Karp – Acting Chief Correspondence

Monica Biddle – Office Assistant

Jeanne Hegarty – Office Assistant

Colleen Koerner – Office Assistant

Courtney Jackson – Office Assistant

Gail Walton – Office Assistant

Titus Spratley – Acting Chief Office Services

John Brown – Mail Room

Karen Lehrer – Mail Room

Jackie Oliver – Office Assistant (Bills)

Jeanne Davis – Curator City Hall

Jim Scales – Office Assistant

The following are all staff at the MD Democrat Party - Terry Lierman (Chair), Josh White (Executive Director), and Meredith Bowman.

Patricia Unger, President, United Democratic Women’s Clubs of Maryland.

John Mahoney, President, Young Democrats of Maryland.

The following are all Montgomery County Council members: Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, Steve Silverman, Michael Subin, Mike Knapp, Phillip Andrews, Marilyn Praisner, and Tom Perez.

The following are all Baltimore City Council members: John Cain, Nicholas D'Adamo, Jr., Lois Garey, Paula Branch, Pamela Carter, Jack Young, Robert Curran (interesting last name), Kenneth Harris, Lisa Stancil, Keiffer Mitchell, Katherine Pugh, Agnes Welch, Helen Holton, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Ricki Spector, Kwame Osayaba Abayomi, Edward Reisinger, and Melvin Stukes.

Kathy Shatt, Anne Arundel County Democratic Party.

Edie Segree, and Melinda Hamilton, Almost 7:30 Friday Democratic Breakfast Club.

Agnes Holmes, Annapolis Democratic Central Committee.

Mike Gorman, Young Democratic Club of Anne Arundel County.

Agnes Welch, Baltimore City Democratic Party.

Charline Gilbert, Baltimore City Young Democrats.

Mike Mitchell, New Democratic Club.

Bob Murray, United Democratic Club.

Karen Britto, Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Michael Griffiths, African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County.

Keith Steele, Asbury Democratic Club.

Matt Nisenoff, B-CC Democratic Breakfast Club.

Lauri Rodich, District 14 Democratic Club

Daphne Bloomberg, District 15 Democratic Caucus

John Young, District 15 Democratic Club

Don Mooers, District 16 Democratic Club

Kurt Karst, District 17 Democratic Club

Susan Heltemes, District 18 Democratic Breakfast Club

Shirley Johnson, District 19 Democratic Club

Joseph Eyong, District 20 Democratic Caucus

Darrell Anderson, District 39 Democratic Caucus

Craig Rice, Germantown Democratic Club

William Jacobs, Montgomery County Green Democrats

Josh Bokee, New Democrats of Montgomery County

Mary Miller Northern Montgomery Co. Women's Democratic Club

Susan Magazine, Rockville/Mid-County Democratic Breakfast Club

Sylvia Lake, Seneca Potomac Democratic Club

Mark Woodward, Silverspring Democratic Club

Matt Nisenoff, United Democrats of Montgomery County

Dorothy Barthelmes, Woman's Suburban Democratic Club

Adam Luecking, Young Dems of Montgomery County

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Time For Time Travel (mddems and the wayback machine)

I had a hunch that the web address might produce a link to MD4Bush. The problem is the site is horribly managed but I decided to use the Internet Wayback Machine to mine the archives of the site. So this is the matrix of dates and data I found. The links take you to each date the webpage was cached and what the conditions of the site were at that time. Basically, we're looking for are names that may appear and disappear in support of the contention that MD4Bush was at one time affiliated with

In other words, proof that MD4Bush is in fact an O'Malley staffer or supporter who has or has had an email address that ends with:

Note: * denotes an update.

Feb 02, 2001 *Mar 31, 2001 *Apr 05, 2001May 16, 2001 *Jul 21, 2001 *Sep 26, 2001 *Nov 30, 2001 *

May 29, 2002 *Aug 03, 2002 *Aug 05, 2002Aug 10, 2002Aug 12, 2002Aug 13, 2002Aug 15, 2002Aug 17, 2002Aug 19, 2002Aug 24, 2002 *Aug 26, 2002Aug 27, 2002Aug 28, 2002Aug 31, 2002Sep 02, 2002Sep 03, 2002Sep 05, 2002 *Sep 06, 2002Sep 07, 2002Sep 09, 2002Sep 10, 2002 *Sep 11, 2002Sep 27, 2002 *Sep 29, 2002Oct 02, 2002Oct 03, 2002Oct 04, 2002Oct 06, 2002Oct 07, 2002Oct 09, 2002Oct 10, 2002Oct 11, 2002Oct 12, 2002Oct 13, 2002Oct 14, 2002Oct 15, 2002Oct 16, 2002 *Oct 17, 2002Oct 19, 2002Oct 20, 2002Oct 21, 2002Oct 22, 2002Oct 23, 2002Oct 24, 2002Oct 25, 2002Oct 26, 2002Oct 27, 2002Oct 28, 2002Oct 30, 2002Oct 31, 2002Nov 01, 2002Nov 02, 2002Nov 03, 2002Nov 04, 2002Nov 05, 2002Nov 06, 2002Nov 07, 2002Nov 08, 2002Nov 09, 2002Nov 11, 2002Nov 15, 2002Nov 16, 2002Nov 18, 2002Nov 20, 2002Nov 25, 2002Nov 27, 2002Nov 29, 2002Nov 30, 2002Dec 02, 2002

Jan 26, 2003 *Feb 10, 2003Feb 13, 2003Mar 29, 2003 *Mar 30, 2003Apr 23, 2003 *Apr 25, 2003 *May 22, 2003 *Jun 06, 2003Jun 11, 2003Jun 22, 2003Jul 20, 2003 *Jul 26, 2003Nov 19, 2003 *Nov 25, 2003Dec 18, 2003Dec 20, 2003Dec 21, 2003

The website has not been updated (at least by the wayback machine) in the last two years.


The Saga Continues

WBAL's Chip Franklin piped a few days ago and this is what he had to say:

MD4BUSH...Who Are You?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - Chip Franklin

Time to Turn The Question

The question was; what did Ehrlich know about Steffen, now the question is; when did O’Malley and the Democrats know?

You know the story. The Washington Post broke it last week. An Ehrlich aide had been spreading rumors about O’Malley’s alleged infidelity. O’Malley and his wife held a press conference at city hall and talked about how these rumors had affected their family. It was moving. How could the Governor do such a thing? Ehrlich refused to apologize, despite demands from many, including myself. But that’s just part of the story.

Joe Steffen, the aide, is a longtime associate of Governor Ehrlich. He was fired when this story broke. Last fall, he was posting at, a conservative web site, speculating on rumors that O’Malley was having and had had affairs. Sometime between last summer and last Tuesday, someone brought this to the attention of the Washington Post. (pt 1). Also while Steffen was posting, someone appeared on the site, MD4BUSH, who pushed and prodded to Steffen to tell more. Steffen and MD4Bush spoke in a private room (pt2) and exchanged thoughts about O’Malley and again MD4Bush pushed and prodded Steffen. Who was MD4Bush?

Jump ahead to November when O’Malley referred to rumors about himself. (pt3). The media didn’t bite, since apparently no one except the Post knew about Steffen’s postings. But Rob Douglas and I received a tip that the Post was going to print with a damaging story about Ehrlich. It came from a Democratic insider. (pt4). And in the hours before the story broke, more tips that it was coming. It was going to really damage Ehrlich, said the source.

And then the story broke. Followed up ridiculous accusations that Ehrlich lied about ever hearing rumors, no one is asking the important question.

1-Who gave the story to the Post? It could only be Steffen, The free Republic, very unlikely, or MD4Bush.

2-Who is MD4Bush? If the Democrats knew about this as far back as August, when did O’Malley know? How could the mayor have not been informed of Steffen’s actions back last fall? Why doesn’t someone ask him?

3-and what if MD4BUSh is a Democrat with ties to O’Malley? What does that say about the timing of his heart-pulling press conference? Where is the press on this?

WBAL Radio

If Chip and Rob Douglas have a source who is a Democrat insider I suggest Chip and Rob consider the source and think about if they've been played by the source. There's not a very big list of suspects in a small state like Maryland. So maybe Chip and Rob might want to ask a few more questions. Could their source be MD4Bush? Could their source be using them and WBAL radio to get the rumor story out and the stink on the governor? After all didn't Chip tell the governor to apologize? Will Chip and Rob speculate as to who they think MD4Bush is? I know there's plenty of folks on Freerepublic who are, including Jim Robinson the site's owner.

In our "consider the source" department here's something found in the The Maryland Gazette (a paper owned by the Washington Post):

When mud flies, everyone gets dirty

by Barry Rascovar

Feb. 18, 2005


"Rumorgate" surfaced in Maryland last week, leaving everyone splattered with mud.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley played the role of innocent victim of a dastardly whispering campaign. The alleged perpetrator? That Evil Ehrlich Empire.

But wait. Gov. Bob Ehrlich professed his own innocence. He fired the jerk who got caught sending e-mail messages to a right-wing Republican Web site questioning O'Malley's marital fidelity.

The fact that this lunatic had worked for Ehrlich previously and held a good-paying state job led some to shout, "Conspiracy!" Further evidence of a Watergate-style scandal came when it was revealed the rumor-monger called himself "the Prince of Darkness" and loved wallowing in the slimy underside of politics.

But wait. Where were the "dirty tricks"? This Ehrlich acolyte wasn't planting seeds of doubt among Democrats who might abandon the mayor. He just repeated the O'Malley rumors in a few messages posted on a right-wing Web site, going by the name of "ncpac."

If "ncpac" was supposed to discredit O'Malley among Democrats, he was abysmally incompetent. You won't find many Democrats on that Web site,

One exception may have been "Md4Bush" -- the handle of the person who appears to have lured "ncpac" into a discussion about O'Malley's alleged dalliances. "Md4Bush" had inside knowledge of the Washington Post's reporting on "rumorgate," even knowing when the story was about to be published.

"Md4Bush" also released the incriminating e-mails received from "ncpac" simultaneously with publication of the story.

Coincidence or conspiracy? Was this a set-up job by O'Malley supporters to make Ehrlich look like the villain? There are tantalizing hints.

Why were gloating supporters of the mayor quick to claim after O'Malley's "I am faithful" press conference that this episode had destroyed the governor's electability in 2006? Why did a former aide to the mayor -- who until recently worked for the state Democratic Party -- dispatch a highly suspicious e-mail to O'Malley backers urging them to make calls to right-wing radio talk-shows and denounce Ehrlich?

"There will be a big story in the Post either tomorrow or Thursday that credits Gov. Ehrlich's staff for creating and spreading the nasty and untrue rumor about our Mayor and his family," the e-mail reads. It goes on to mention a top O'Malley aide who "asked me to contact you to see if you could show your disgust by calling into WBAL Radio after the story hits ... it is top secret!"

The e-mailer then dictates what callers should say:

"'I voted for Ehrlich because I thought he would get rid of the culture of corruption and assassin politics of Annapolis -- he has only made it worse. He should be ashamed of the dirty smear campaign perpetuated by his own staff. It disgusts me to know that my tax dollars paid for this filth.'"

The message concludes, "This will be the biggest story of the year. Thanks for your help."

The most curious thing about this e-mail is the sender's address: Maryland State Democratic Party headquarters ( It was sent less than five hours before the Post went public with its story.

What should we make of all this garbage? We don't know who's telling the truth. Each side is slinging accusations.

Democratic zealots want hearings in Annapolis -- with subpoena power -- to embarrass Ehrlich. But what if the testimony points in a different direction?

The founder of, Jim Robinson, posted a titillating e-mail message last week: "I've got some very interesting information ... regarding the Maryland Democratic Party dirty trickster that set up" "ncpac" and the Post. "Almost hoping to receive a subpoena."

If this episode was supposed put to rest the rumor that has been circulating for close to 10 years, it didn't work.

Baltimore's mayor is a handsome fellow. He sings in an Irish rock band wearing a muscle T-shirt. "O'Malley's March" plays till early mornings at boozy saloons and music halls frequented by female groupies and adoring fans. Whispering campaigns are inevitable.

Yet there's no reason to doubt the mayor's word.

His dilemma is that you can't quash a rumor. Holding a press conference and proclaiming your faithfulness no longer suffices. We live in an age of cynicism and skepticism toward public officials. Doubters think the worst of a politician.

By going public, O'Malley breathed new life into the rumors: radio commentators now feel free to talk about this issue. Previously, they had refused to touch it. What had been little more than social gossip is suddenly grist for high-volume radio talk shows.

Ehrlich is stained as well. He kept a nefarious operative on his congressional payroll, then gave him a series of state jobs where he may have had a hand in firing Democratic workers.

The governor's cries of innocence -- there's no proof of any involvement -- were lost in the harsh partisan criticism from Democrats with superficial knowledge of the story. He got caught in the same wave of public cynicism and skepticism that washed over O'Malley.

Both of them resemble kids fighting in a sandbox.

Here's the really bad news: We probably haven't seen the last of this mud-slinging. There are still 20 months to go till Election Day.

Barry Rascovar is a strategic communications consultant in the Baltimore area. His weekly radio commentary can be heard Wednesday mornings on WYPR-FM, 88.1. His e-mail address is

This must be the same email that Chip and Rob mentioned. Although they didn't provide as much information as Barry; I'm sure they took "seminar" calls as detailed in the email. But why didn't anyone at WBAL mention the "" address? Maybe they did. It looks like no one in the press or on talk radio wants to take a stab at who MD4Bush is. I wonder why?

The article was posted at FR by Jim Robinson and he had this to add:

Also from the aticle:

"The most curious thing about this e-mail is the sender's address: Maryland State Democratic Party headquarters ( It was sent less than five hours before the Post went public with its story."

Hmmm.... the email message was from Hmmmm...

Thanks Todd :)

1 posted on 02/20/2005 3:08:47 AM EST by Jim Robinson

The plot thickens. Who's Todd? Is he or MD4Bush a player in Democrat Maryland politics?

Based on reading every article on the subject of Steffen/NCPAC and MD4Bush I have another list of potential suspects.

Most will have some party affiliation with the MD Democrats and some are disgruntled state employees. Whether they have an email remains to be seen. But every one of these people was quoted in a Sun or Post article:

Connie Dejulius - Democrat candidate from Ehrlich's '96 run for Congress

Tom Burgess - Fired from the Department of Human Resources

Rick Abbruzzese - Current O'Malley spokesman

Vincent Gardina - Democrat Baltimore City Councilman and recent recipient of $100,000 for being fired by Ehrlich

Gerry Brewster - Towson Democrat and opponent of Ehrlich in Congressional run

Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. - Quoted by Dresser, Councilman

Robert W. Curran - Joe Curran's brother and Councilman

Raquel Guillory - Quoted by Dresser, O'Malley spokesman

Bernard "Jack" Young - Quoted by Dresser, Councilman

Mary Pat Clarke - Councilman

Kumar Barve - House Majority Leader

Stephen Kearney - O'Malley communications director

Brian E. Frosh - Montgomery County Democratic Senator

Robert A. Zirkin - Democrat Baltimore County

? Lieberman - "Got canned" as mentioned by NCPAC to MD4Bush

Molly Mitchell - Fired from the Office of Crime Control and Prevention, who is married to...

Vincent Demarco - Annapolis Democrat lobbyist

Michael J. Collins - Former Democrat State Senator

Diane R. Evans - Fired from the Department of Natural Resources

Chrys Wilson - Fired and then rehired at a Judges order at the Public Service Commission

Josh White - Executive Officer of the Maryland Democrat Party

Alan Clark - Fired from the Maryland Insurance Agency

Sue Esty - Lobbyist for AFSCME who notes 134 jobs eliminated by Ehrlich

George W. Casey - Registered Republican fired from the Maryland Department of Transportation

Thomas Schaller - Professor of Political Science at U MD and O'Malley supporter who crossed swords with Ehrlich on WBAL talk radio

Sandy Brantley - Former Glendening counsel and O'Malley supporter

Mike Morrill - Former Communications Director for Glendening and current strategist for MD Democrat Party

I googled "Todd O'Malley" and came up with this:

Philadelphia Daily News | 02/27/2004 | THE MAJOR PLAYERS


Who he is: President of the Scranton school board and a prominent trial lawyer in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Philly connection: It was O'Malley who, as school board finance chairman, brought in Brazil and White to handle a controversial $63.3-million bond issue in 2001.

Is he related to MOM?

Anywho, back to the drama, here's more from the Maryland Gazette:

Duncan takes shot at O'Malley

by Thomas Dennison

Staff Writer

Feb. 18, 2005


ANNAPOLIS -- The issue that has divided Democrats so bitterly for the past three years is now fueling the most heated split between the party's two presumed gubernatorial candidates.

On Thursday, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan unleashed a salvo at Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley for offering a carefully worded position on legalization of slot machines.

When Duncan learned that the mayor had met with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. a day earlier to talk about getting a slots bill passed, his criticism intensified.

Political observers said Duncan is trying seize on the slots issue to distinguish himself in a race that has been thus far dominated by speculation about O'Malley's chances of beating Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

An uncompromising slots foe, Duncan tried to paint O'Malley and Ehrlich with the same brush.

O'Malley "supports slots and he supports slots for education, which is a terrible mistake," Duncan said in an interview Thursday. "Ehrlich and O'Malley are identical on this issue. They are saying we can't afford education without depending on gambling. They have their priorities backwards."

He continued, "We need a governor with substance. A governor who gets things done and not one who relies on gambling gimmicks."

O'Malley, too, has used the phrase "gambling gimmick" in attacking Ehrlich's slots position. The mayor did not quibble with the assertion that he is pro-slots or that his position is muddy compared to Duncan's.

"This is not a black or white issue for me," O'Malley said as he walked the halls in the Miller Senate Office Building on Wednesday. "A moderate, reasonable compromise is not a bad thing."

Miller said that, in their meeting, O'Malley was supportive of legalization.

"He asked me, 'What can I do to help you pass a slots bill?'" Miller (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach said.

Steve Kearney, O'Malley's spokesman, did not try to deflect Duncan's criticism.

"The truth is that, after three years of gridlock, the mayor thinks a reasonable, responsible compromise is possible to protect the thousands of jobs in Maryland's horseracing industry, to keep the Preakness in Baltimore, and use some funds for school construction," Kearney said. "It's time to get this behind us and move on to the other important issues facing our state."

O'Malley's stance "shows a real ignorance of what's going on around the state," Duncan said.

He said the "groundwork" he has laid for a potential run at the governor's mansion is rooted in building Montgomery County into an "economic and education powerhouse."

Neither man has formally declared their candidacies; both men have been crisscrossing the state and touting their achievements while raising money for unspecified campaigns.

Duncan's attempt to use slots to increase his visibility outside Montgomery County is calculated to appeal to Democratic primary voters.

"Slots passing is a gold mine for Doug Duncan," said one Duncan backer. "He will be able to go to Democratic Party clubs around the state reminding them that Martin O'Malley helped Bob Ehrlich get his No. 1 priority passed."

Duncan is planning several events -- possibly at black churches in Baltimore, traditionally anti-slots -- to remind voters that O'Malley and Ehrlich both support slots.

Matthew Crenson, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said Duncan's high-profile anti-slots position and his decision to go negative on O'Malley is a way of trying to blunt the momentum O'Malley has gained in the past week or so since the governor fired longtime aide Joseph F. Steffen Jr. for spreading rumors about the mayor's marriage.

"O'Malley got picture-perfect coverage because it made the governor look bad because the rumors were being spread by a Republican operative," Crenson said. "The polls have shown that O'Malley is ahead of Duncan, and also that O'Malley does better against the governor. If Duncan sits there any longer without getting in the news, he's going to fall further behind."

Duncan's anti-slots position allies him with the party's progressive wing, which considers slots as predatory and regressive. His base in the Washington suburbs is where anti-slots sentiment is the strongest in the state. And he is emulating the "no casinos, no slots, no exceptions" strategy that Parris N. Glendening (D) used on his 1998 rematch against Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R), analysts said.

The progressive wing, embodied by Del. Peter V.R. Franchot (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park, argues that the party's base "will not put up with" pro-slots Democrats running for office, indicating that Duncan can mine the issue for months.

"It will be a long, hot primary season for a candidate carrying two or three slot machines on their back," Franchot said.

Miller, the General Assembly's most ardent slots supporter, disagreed.

O'Malley will benefit from his pro-slots position, Miller said, noting that polls show that voters support slot machines when they are tied to schools. Duncan could be opening himself up to characterizations that he would rather raise taxes instead of passing slots, he said.

"If [O'Malley is] pro-slots, he's pro-school-construction," Miller said. "If he's pro-slots, he's anti-tax. It makes all the sense in the world for him to be pro-slots."

We've got ourselves a campaign. Duncan sat out the first week of the scandal and now the long knives are out. Who said politics wasn't a contact sport?

The Sunday papers weren't wall-to-wall on the subject like last week but here's the highlights:

Ehrlich Adviser Looks to Reporters for Answers on Rumors

By Matthew Mosk and John Wagner

Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page C04

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s chief legal adviser has had more than a week to investigate the allegations that a state employee was orchestrating the spread of rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's personal life.

Jervis Finney said Friday that he has yet to interview the man whose Web postings under the handle "NCPAC" prompted the story: longtime Ehrlich aide Joseph Steffen.

Instead, Finney seems to be focusing his investigation in another direction -- on the reporters covering the story. In a letter to several media outlets, Finney asked reporters to identify another contributor to the conservative Web site's musings, MD4BUSH. This contributor appears to have coaxed Steffen into discussing not only the rumor but also the notion that there was work done behind the scenes to give the rumor "float."

In his request to reporters, Finney notes that a recent court ruling compelled reporters from the New York Times and Time magazine to reveal their sources or face jail time. This reference was not an attempt at intimidation, he said.

"No attempt at intimidation at all," he said. "Just trying to get information important to this little investigation."

Another Dean Scream

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who has gained a national profile in Republican circles, last week sought to highlight what he said were racially insensitive remarks by Howard Dean, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Dean, the former Vermont governor and unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate, made the rounds at the Hilton Washington on Feb. 11, speaking to various constituency groups of the Democratic party gathered there.

"You think the [Republican National Committee] could get this many people of color into a single room?" Dean reportedly said upon encountering about 150 members of the Democratic Black Caucus. "Maybe if they got the hotel staff in there."

Steele joined another black Republican, former U.S. representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, in condemning the remarks.

"We are simply outraged," Steele and Watts said in a joint statement. "Dean equates African Americans who support Republicans to 'hired help.' . . . Democrats wonder why they are losing electoral ground among African Americans and other minorities. They need to look no further than the comments of their newly elected leader."

DNC strategist Jim Jordan replied later in the week: "Does the party of Bob Jones and Jesse Helms really want a debate on racial sensitivity led by Mr. Steele, the guy they trotted out to defend Trent Lott and his remarks on segregation?"

Family Ties Could Be Split

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano said he turned beet red when he read a newspaper article last summer about his efforts to raise campaign money for a D.C. Council candidate who happened to have a cousin in the Maryland General Assembly.

The notorious Annapolis lobbyist, who was convicted of fraud and disbarred for improper campaign contributions, wasn't embarrassed by the article. He was enraged.

Vincent Gray, who wound up winning his election, may indeed be a cousin of Maryland Del. James E. Proctor Jr. (D-Prince George's), he said, but he also is one of Bereano's oldest friends. The lobbyist said he was Gray's fraternity "big brother" in college.

There was nothing improper about the fundraising effort. But that could change. Sens. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) and Sharon M. Grosfeld (D-Montgomery) have filed a bill to make it illegal for lobbyists to raise campaign cash for the relatives of legislators. A hearing is scheduled in March.

Schaefer Ribbed Over Lottery Ticket

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) is known for needling state government officials who come before the Board of Public Works, a three-member panel on which the sometimes-cantankerous former governor sits.

Last week, however, Schaefer found himself on the receiving end when it was disclosed that he had purchased a scratch-off lottery ticket -- from Delaware.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) said he was stunned that the comptroller of Maryland, which sells its own lottery tickets, had turned to Delaware to make a purchase.

"I wanted a winner," Schaefer said sheepishly, to great laughter from the crowd.

Staff writer David Snyder contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Here's the Washington Times' take:


Journalists asked about mayor buzz

Published February 20, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Jervis S. Finney, chief counsel to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has questioned two journalists about "MD4BUSH," an anonymous contributor to a Web site that posted rumors about Mayor Martin O'Malley.

    Mr. Finney said he was asking the questions as part of his investigation into the activities of Joseph Steffen, an aide to the governor who was fired Feb. 8 for his involvement in spreading rumors about Mr. O'Malley's personal life, the Baltimore Sun reported.

    Mr. O'Malley has denied the rumors.

    MD4BUSH had several Web log exchanges with Mr. Steffen about the O'Malley rumors.

    In a Feb. 16 letter to Sun reporter Michael Dresser, Mr. Finney cited a federal appeals court panel's decision last week that undercut reporters' right to shield their sources. In a letter to Sun columnist Michael Olesker, Mr. Finney wondered "whether you are in fact 'MD4BUSH.' "

    Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, barred state employees last fall from contact with Mr. Olesker and the Sun's State House bureau chief David Nitkin because, he said, they were not objectively covering his administration.

    The Sun challenged the order by filing a lawsuit, which was dismissed in December by a federal judge.

    Mr. Olesker and Mr. Dresser said they had no knowledge of MD4BUSH.

    "Of course I'm not that guy," Mr. Olesker said. "It's not me, and I have no idea who it is."

    Said Mr. Dresser: "I am not MD4BUSH, and I would not care to speculate who MD4BUSH might be."

    Mr. Finney's questions followed Freedom of Information Act requests by the Sun and other media about details of the administration's investigation into Mr. Steffen's activities.

    Mr. Olesker and Mr. Dresser appear to be the only ones to have received written questions last week as part of the investigation.

    Mr. Finney said that he "verbally" asked other media members about MD4BUSH and intends to follow up in written form. He said the decision to question the press is part of his effort to conduct a thorough investigation into the spreading of the rumors about the mayor.

    "I am trying to seek information that is relevant to the governor, whether a state employee or official might be MD4BUSH," he said.

    In support of his decision to question the press, Mr. Finney cited the U.S. Court of Appeals case involving reporters Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of the New York Times, who face contempt-of-court charges for refusing to tell prosecutors about their confidential talks with a government official or officials about the identity of a CIA operative.

    In that case, he said, it was suggested that there are times when it is appropriate for the press to reveal information and sources.

    "It's up to the newspaper whether this is one of those times," Mr. Finney said. "It's entirely appropriate for me to ask the question. If you all are going to decline to answer the question, then so be it."


Copyright © 2005 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Repeating rumors is not the newspaper's job

Public Editor: Paul Moore

February 20, 2005

ON THE DAY Mayor Martin O'Malley denounced rumors he had had an extramarital affair - rumors that became public when a state employee and longtime aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich was discovered spreading them on the Internet - reader Neal M. Smith asked: "Why is it that The Sun has not reported on the specifics of these rumors? Everyone in Baltimore knew about them. Do your job!"

Reporters and editors have been doing their jobs. They had been pursuing rumors and tips about O'Malley but could not confirm them. Because The Sun does not report unsubstantiated rumors in the news pages, no matter who or what the subject is, no article about the O'Malley rumors was ever published.

Sun reporter Laura Vozzella noted in the Feb. 13 front-page article, "Every news organization in town had tried to nail the O'Malley story, scouring courts for divorce filings or paternity suits, seeking records of the mayor's travel and security detail. They all came up empty-handed."

Mr. Smith was still not convinced. "It is The Sun's apparent lack of performance that I question. There are too many unanswered questions. There is a saying, 'History is nothing but a fable agreed upon.' It seems that your reporting of this story is nothing but a fable agreed upon. ... "

The implication is that The Sun was not aggressive in reporting about the rumors because it did not want to embarrass O'Malley.

Other readers questioned why the newspaper did not write about the woman alleged to be involved. Again, The Sun could not substantiate any of those rumors. "We have no interest in putting her name in the newspaper only to satisfy some of our readers' curiosity," said Deputy Managing Editor Sandy Banisky. "There is too much at stake."

Because anonymous figures can use Web sites to make accusations that can destroy reputations and careers, a newspaper cannot allow competitive pressures or any other reason to lower its standards. Although some might question this, The Sun takes these standards very seriously.

While investigating the O'Malley rumors last year, reporters and editors discovered that rumors had appeared on The Sun's own Web site bulletin boards (also called forums). After failing to find any truth to the rumors, Web site managers deleted the postings about O'Malley and banned users who had posted them, citing violations of the user agreement.

That agreement specifically bans postings that are threatening, disparaging, misleading or "contain gross exaggeration or unsubstantiated claims." Tim Windsor, deputy general manager for interactive, said reminding users of the terms of the agreement greatly reduced the number of posts about the rumors. "However, there was also a marked increase, both through e-mails and postings on the boards, in claims by readers that we were showing O'Malley favoritism by deleting the posts," Windsor said. "We responded that we would apply the same rules to any post making unfounded claims of such a personal nature."

After the story about state worker Joseph Steffen and his Web site postings about O'Malley broke this month, The Sun investigated its own Web site to see if Steffen had posted any messages on its bulletin boards. He had not.

Vozzella's Feb. 13 story also mentions the rumors of an extramarital affair that surrounded Gov. Parris N. Glendening during his final years in office. The Sun pursued the story - which proved true - that Glendening had a personal relationship with a staff member, whom he later married.

A key issue was whether the relationship had caused the staff member to be promoted and whether the governor's relationship was an abuse of public trust or public dollars. "In the end, we could never establish that," Banisky said. "We did not write the story until the governor himself discussed the situation."

On Feb. 15, The Sun's David Nitkin advanced the rumor story when he reported in a column that another participant on the Web site where Steffen operated might have enticed him into spreading rumors about O'Malley.

Steffen's most damaging comments came in e-mail exchanges with MD4BUSH, the username of a Web site member who, Nitkin reports, could be a Democratic operative or even an O'Malley ally. Nitkin points out that minutes after The Washington Post broke the Steffen story on its Web site, "MD4BUSH gathered all exchanges from NCPAC [Steffen's username] and posted them in a convenient place on the Web site." This indicates prior knowledge of the content and timing of the Post story.

Reader Paul Stancil said: "After reading Mr. Nitkin's fine piece, I have a newfound respect for your reporting. I would imagine that you are following up with the Web site owner. I can't wait for you to solve this 'political question.'"

Reporters call it "rumor patrol," and chasing leads in pursuit of what is fact and what is not can consume a significant amount of their time. The search is worth it, however, if their efforts bring facts to light or lay rumors to rest.

Paul Moore's column appears Sundays.

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

Once more with feeling: Because anonymous figures can use Web sites to make accusations that can destroy reputations and careers, a newspaper cannot allow competitive pressures or any other reason to lower its standards.

The Sun (through Paul Moore's column) has climbed up on its high-horse and claimed the moral high ground by refusing to lower its journalistic standards to "anonymous figures" on the web. The same web that produced MD4Bush and the story the Sun is trying desperately to report on while not reporting on the rumors that the anonymous figure wrote about on the web. This is known in journalism and prostitution standards as a "double standard". This is also known in beach lingo as building castles out of sand. The new media and the Sun (and Post) are not quite getting along well just yet but rest assured as soon as the Sun and Post can get a hold of the internet all will be clear. I hear Nitkin's taking a crash course in html while he's not reporting from the State House.

Talk-show host also works for state

WBAL radio’s Chip Franklin earned $30,000 over 3 years making ads for Md. Lottery

By Andrew A. Green

Sun Staff

February 21, 2005, 9:29 PM EST

WBAL-AM talk-radio host Chip Franklin, who frequently comments on state government -- and whose show often provides a friendly forum for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. -- has been paid more than $30,000 in the past three years to appear in commercials for the Maryland Lottery.

Franklin, who hosts a morning show with about 130,000 listeners a week, receives a $1,500 payment each time he tapes a television commercial for scratch-off lottery tickets in an arrangement that predates Ehrlich's election. He is paid by Eisner Communications, a Baltimore advertising agency hired by the lottery.

Station management and Franklin defend the arrangement, saying it is common for talk-radio hosts, unlike news reporters, to engage in outside advertising because they primarily are considered entertainers.

Media watchers say many politicians -- Ehrlich included -- increasingly turn to talk radio as a means to speak without a filter to voters in a setting that has the appearance of journalism but lacks the same professional standards of independence and objectivity.

[They said with a straight face.]

When the host is being paid for work done for a state agency, "I'm afraid he's crossed the line," said Edward Wasserman, a professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University. The lottery's director and board are appointed by the governor and Ehrlich's picture appears at the top of its Web page.

WBAL station manager Jeff Beauchamp said the arrangement presents no conflict of interest for Franklin. Members of the station's news staff are forbidden from appearing in advertisements, but the station's talk-radio hosts, like most in the industry, frequently do ads.

"Chip is not a journalist in our news department. He is [an opinion] columnist on the air," Beauchamp said. "The other thing is ... how can this possibly be a conflict of interest in the way Chip treats our governor when he originally accepted the offer to be their spokesman for the agency under the administration of [former governor] Parris Glendening?"

[Pesky facts.]

Franklin said his arrangement with the lottery has not made him more reluctant to criticize any state officials. He said he frequently was critical of Glendening's approach to government and recently has taken positions at odds with Ehrlich, such as saying the governor should apologize to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley over the actions of an aide who spread rumors about the mayor's private life.

"I'll say anything that I think is necessary to say," Franklin said.

Wasserman said that by presenting interviews with the governor, Franklin takes on the role of a journalist, and in that context he cannot ethically do work for the state government. The fact that his show is presented as a forum of opinions, not as objective news reporting, makes no difference, Wasserman said.

"If the politician is being interviewed by, effectively, an employee, the public needs to know that. There is no way you can present that interview as an arm's-length interaction. ... It's one thing to agree with someone out of conviction. It's another thing to be on someone's payroll."

According to WBAL's Web site, Franklin has received several awards for his work. Most of them recognize his ability as a talk-show host, but some are journalism awards, including an Edward R. Murrow award for writing and, with members of the station's news staff, a National Headliner Award for coverage of a breaking news event, a school shooting in Red Lion, Pa.

Michael Harrison, publisher ofTalkers, a talk-radio trade magazine, said a talk-show host appearing in commercials for the lottery is "no big deal" by industry standards. News reporters rarely appear in advertisements for anything, much less state government, but television and radio personalities have long appeared in ads because they are primarily considered entertainers.

The key question, he said, is whether the public is aware that the host is paid by the state, and since the commercials in this case are broadcast on television, Franklin's outside employment is no secret, Harrison said.

Last summer, Beauchamp decided that another WBAL personality, Ron Smith, should no longer host the station's Stateline with the Governor, a twice-a-month, hourlong program. He acted after Smith's wife, June, was hired as a $79,771-a-year public relations officer in the Department of Juvenile Services.

"After learning that Ron's wife had accepted this position, Ron gave us assurances that there was no quid pro quo," Beauchamp said at the time. "But we believe that even the appearance of a quid pro quo -- even though we don't believe there is any -- is something we should avoid."

While Smith did not receive a paycheck from the state, Franklin is compensated by the state for his services through Eisner Communications. He has earned $31,099.64 so far, according to the Maryland Lottery.

Beauchamp said he did not believe Franklin's relationship with the state government is anything like the Smith case. The governor has never had a regular slot on Franklin's show but has called in when he wants to participate in a discussion. Furthermore, Beauchamp said, Franklin appears in the lottery ads as an entertainer, whereas Smith's wife is paid to articulate the policies of the Ehrlich administration.

Beauchamp said he offered Ehrlich a choice at the time of continuing theStateline show with a member of the news department or another talk-show host as a moderator when Smith was replaced, but the governor declined.

On Feb. 12, the Stateline program resumed as a regular show on WBAL, this time with host Bruce Elliott on Saturday mornings. Elliott, like Smith and Franklin, is not a member of the news staff. Beauchamp said Elliott has no connection to the Ehrlich administration.

"Believe me, I checked and double-checked," Beauchamp said.

Jimmy White, a lottery spokesman, said Franklin was hired by an advertising agency that handles lottery promotions because of his skill as a stand-up comedian. Franklin said he initially auditioned for the job and competed with several other people to get it. He provided voice-over services for a half-dozen television ads in 2001 and switched to the current format, in which he appears on camera, in the summer of 2002, White said.

The current television ads are unscripted and show Franklin interacting with Marylanders as they scratch off lottery tickets. White said the ads have been effective.

Franklin does not have a standing contract with the lottery but is paid a daily rate -- slightly more than union scale wages for commercial work owing to the unscripted nature of the television ads -- plus residual payments based on how often the ads run, White said.

The way WBAL has handled its relationship with Ehrlich and its standards for its talk-show hosts are the norm in the industry, but they still raise some thorny issues, said Alex S. Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

It is standard, he said, for radio talk-show hosts to consider themselves entertainers, not journalists. National radio talk- show host Rush Limbaugh, for example, repeatedly has insisted that he is not a journalist, Jones said.

But because the hosts address public policy issues and frequently speak with politicians, listeners often consider what they hear to be journalism, Jones said.

"They have no journalistic obligation of fairness. They have much more elastic standards of conflict of interest and things like that. Yet, at the same time, they are perceived often to have credibility based on being journalists. That's something people ought to know," Jones said.

[I guess that whole free-market capitalism thingy has nothing to do with ratings for talk radio. Kennedy School of Government? What's next: Kennedy School of Driving?]

This distinction has been in the news in recent weeks with the revelation that conservative commentator Armstrong Williams was paid nearly $250,000 to promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. Media watchers said, however, that they do not believe Franklin's arrangement is comparable because he is not paid to espouse opinions on the administration or the lottery in his radio show or the written commentaries he posts on WBAL's Web site.

Williams did not publicly disclose his financial relationship with the Department of Education, though it was spelled out in a contract, which was public record.

Harrison, the talk-radio magazine publisher, said the divide in modern political discourse between journalism and entertainment is growing increasingly murky.

Radio personalities benefit in ratings and stature from having popular and powerful politicians on their shows, so they are unlikely to challenge their guests with difficult questions, Harrison said.

"If you're friendly with politicians as a talk-show host, you get better access than if you're not, and a lot of people thrive on access," Harrison said. "How many talk-show hosts in California are making hay out of their connections with Arnold Schwarzenegger? They're not going to knock him. If you're a broadcaster, you want to look like you're a heavy."

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

Of course the Sun forgot to mention that MOM invited Chip Franklin outside to "kick his ass" on the air at WBAL.

Chip responds:

The Sun-Scratching and Sniffing

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - Chip Franklin

Today’s article, despite appearances to the contrary, isn’t about me. It’s about the power of you, and Talk Radio.

I’m referring to the Sun article concerning my work on commercials for the lottery. The Sun headline blares-Talk-Show Host Also Works For State.

I’m not sure what the Sun sought to accomplish with the story, but here’s the reality; only Talk-Radio gives you access to such a powerful medium. A newspaper has edited letters to the editor. With what maybe five, six in a given day? But on radio-you speak with the delegates, mayors, congressman, senators, and governors-live. And that’s gotta hurt the Sun. Contrary to what the phrase conveys, our call screeners don’t block calls; they just set ‘em up. If you don’t get on, it’s because we ran out of time, (or you’re insane). With newspapers declining numbers and shrinking ad revenue, it makes sense that they might swing wildly like this-it’s also kind of sad.

I love the word journalist. That’s a word writers use when they want to tell you that they are brighter than you. “As a journalist, we report the news objectively.” The facts. Yeah, right. Here are a few of the facts.

-I don’t work for the State anymore than I work for Cadillac. The headline’s claim is never supported in the story. The money they claim I earned never came from a state agency.

-The article also insinuates the gig is a favor from Ehrlich. I got the job from an ad agency, under the former governor, a Democrat.

-Unlike Armstrong Williams, millions see these ads, which play off my skills as a, well, I’m not sure skill is involved. But I can hold a mike. (But then again, so can a chimp).

-I won the Edward R Murrow award for politic satire. Which is another word for jokes.

-The Sun alleges that the Lottery director is appointed by Ehrlich-but they fail to point out that this guy was appointed by the previous Governor and still holds the position because he does a good job. (So much for the Ehrlich political vindictiveness the Sun alleges).

-The Sun goes out and finds two obscure sources to say I’ve crossed the line? What line? Does anyone who listens to this show not now my position on Government? Does anyone not understand my position on gambling?

Look, as I said-this article isn’t about me. I’d be flattering myself to think that I’m that important. The Sun is intimidated by the success of Talk-Radio; because it allows the dirty little secret to get out. And that is;

you have a voice, and you can now be heard. And the Sun doesn’t like what they are hearing. And they can scratch and claw all they want. They still won’t find a winner.

WBAL Radio

Ron Smith of WBAL added his thoughts:

They Have Ink, We Have 50,000 Watts

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - Ron Smith


The old saw warns: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”  However, a modern retort might go: “Never pick a fight with people who can respond over a 50,000 watt radio station.”


With href=",1,4109477.story?coll=bal-home-headlines">this morning’s lengthy story alleging that our morning host Chip Franklin is somehow conflicted in his job because he does TV commercials for the Maryland Lottery, the Sun has begun yet another round in what has become an ongoing battle over the respective credibility of their organization and ours.


Minutes ago, I listened to Chip’s response at the opening of his show, during which he pointed out that he began doing these commercials during the Glendening Administration, that he was hired by an advertising agency, not State government, and that he is not a journalist. 


The implication in the newspaper story, which quotes one “professor of journalism ethics” as saying of Franklin, ‘I’m afraid he’s crossed the line,” is that because of his ad work for the lottery agency he is somehow compromised as a talk show host.


This criticism is bogus. As radio hosts we are in the business of opinion mongering. That’s what we do. There is no obligation on our part to pretend to objectivity. We’ll leave that to the folks at the North Calvert Street Democratic Marching Society, a.k.a., the Baltimore Sun.


Also quoted in the Sun story is one Alex S. Jones, described as, “director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government,” who says of radio talk hosts, “They have no journalistic obligation of fairness. They have much more elastic standards of conflict of interest and things like that. Yet, at the same time they are perceived often to have credibility based on being journalists. That’s something people ought to know.”


Hello! Like they don’t.  We think our listeners have a pretty good grasp on where we come from"mso-spacerun: yes">  Furthermore, we air a variety of opinions from callers and guests.  The bottom line is simple: Radio talk is not news. It is talk about news, laden with opinion. We also argue our opinions with callers live, in real time.  

style="mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA"> Our various personal agendas are pretty clear and easy for anyone to understand.  If the Sun doesn’t like that, and it doesn't, that's too bad.

WBAL Radio

Lawmakers consider probe of firings by administration

Action could be faster than individual lawsuits

By David Nitkin

Sun Staff

February 21, 2005

Maryland lawmakers are considering granting themselves potent tools to probe the Ehrlich administration's personnel practices - far stronger than those available to several fired state workers trying to accomplish the same goal through individual lawsuits.

Armed with subpoenas and the klieg lights of public scrutiny, lawmakers - if they take up the issue - could unearth documents, witnesses and trends to determine whether aides to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. are improperly removing low-level agency workers, some state officials say.

A handful of employees seeking the same information have sued the administration since the governor took office in 2003 but have faced obstacles, ex-workers and their lawyers say.

Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch, who advises the General Assembly, acknowledged that an inquiry would produce more complete and faster results than would lawsuits.

Ehrlich and his department heads probably would produce documents quickly, he said, or risk appearing as if they had something to hide.

"It certainly is more efficient," Zarnoch said. "If you start holding hearings, people are going to come out of the woodwork."

Several ex-workers have had trouble finding out why they were fired. Administration officials have refused to provide documents to Robin D. Grove, a former deputy director with Maryland Department of the Environment who sued the governor in September 2003, saying he was illegally sacked on Inauguration Day solely because he is a Democrat.

A judge has agreed that the administration is dragging its feet. Last November, Baltimore Circuit Judge Kaye A. Allison imposed financial sanctions on the state after it claimed that hundreds of documents are protected by executive privilege but never went through the files to explain why.

"Defendants have had ample time, nearly one year, to review these documents yet they have failed to do so," Allison said in her decision imposing the sanctions, including attorney expenses. The state has appealed Allison's decision, meaning a further delay of months.

Also this month, the state paid $100,000 to settle a case from Baltimore County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, who earned less than $60,000 as a project manager for Maryland Environmental Service. He said he was fired from the contract position he held for five months after Republicans learned he was on the payroll.

State officials offered the settlement on the eve of depositions of managers who were to be asked who ordered the firing. The depositions were never held, and Gardina said he was frustrated he never learned who gave the order.

Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., the governor's appointments secretary, has said that all hirings and firings have been handled according to law.

"With all the talk of witch hunts and partisan hearings, you'd never know it, but the undeniable and indisputable truth is that no other governor in Maryland history has been so nonpartisan," Hogan told the state Senate on Friday.

But Daniel M. Clements, an attorney representing both Grove and Gardina, disagrees.

"They are hiding and refusing to turn over any documents that show what is the basis of their action," Clements said, speaking of Grove's case. "The government should be transparent about their actions - not firing people for political reasons, then hiding it."

Lawmakers are considering a full inquiry into hiring and firing by Ehrlich in the aftermath of revelations about Joseph F. Steffen Jr., an aide to the governor. The governor has said he would welcome an investigation.

Steffen was forced to resign Feb. 8 after acknowledging he spread Internet rumors about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's personal life. Immediately, current and former state workers came forward to say that Steffen had been dispatched to state agencies to compile lists of low-level workers to be fired.

Democrats allege that Steffen and other Ehrlich staffers are firing far more workers who considered themselves in non-political positions than did previous administrations. Ehrlich officials deny the allegations.

Robert M. Higginbotham II, a fired Public Service Commission employee who is suing to get his job back, encouraged a legislative inquiry. In his lawsuit, he said the state "has failed to negotiate in any way or form."

"It's definitely a speedier process and an ultimate solution," Higginbotham said, "as well as weighing in on just what is the authority of this executive to these lower-level employees, who are just trying to feed their families, pay their bills and contribute as citizens."

While House Speaker Michael E. Busch and other top lawmakers support an inquiry, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has resisted.

"In my opinion, it's immoral, it's unethical, but it is not illegal," Miller said of the administration's personnel decisions. "I'm not about to set up a commission to investigate something that is not illegal."

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

You think Mike Miller might have something to hide? Maybe he should read that Atlantic article he gave to the mayor and see if the evil Karl Rove has plans for him.

Or maybe Mike is just worried that his internet habits might come back to haunt him.

Mr. O'Malley's Dodge

Tuesday, February 22, 2005; Page A14

ON THE ONE HAND, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley favors slot-machine gambling; on the other, he thinks the slot-machine proceeds are a "morally bankrupt" method of paying for public education. On the one hand, Mr. O'Malley supports putting slots at Maryland racetracks; on the other, he doesn't want the state to get hooked on the revenue they'd generate. More than anything, the mayor says of the most critical fiscal issue facing the state and its voters, he'd "sure like to get this issue behind us." He is, in the words of state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), "a very pragmatic elected official." Which is to say that when it comes to slots, Mr. O'Malley seems to believe in nothing at all.

That's too bad, since at the moment Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, is the odds-on favorite to win his party's nomination for governor in 2006. At his current rate of hemming and hawing, he could set a new standard for equivocation before the campaign even begins. By contrast, his apparent rival for the Democratic nomination, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, takes a forthright position on slots: He's against them -- period. "I reject the notion that the only way to move this state forward . . . is to addict more people to gambling," Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. O'Malley, the muscle-shirt-wearing lead singer of his own Celtic rock band, has matinee-idol looks, star quality inside his party and overwhelming public support in his home town. But the early line on his gubernatorial prospects is that when the going gets tough with Mr. Duncan, he may suffer from a gravitas gap. By swinging to and fro on slots, and supporting it mainly so it will go away, Mr. O'Malley lends credence to that critique and undercuts his claim to be his party's best hope of recapturing the governorship.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

It looks like the Post has made a selection. How ironic is it that the Post broke the story that put O'Malley's rumors on the front page (so that he could put them behind him) only to provide Duncan a platform to hammer O'Malley outside of the primary? It's almost like the Post and Sun are providing an outlet for the candidates while playing fast and loose with the facts. Thank God we have such objective bastions of journalism to tell us what to think.

Md. Democrats Split On Probe of Firings

By Matthew Mosk

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 23, 2005; Page B02

When word spread that a longtime aide to Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had boasted of an effort to give "float" to rumors about a political rival's private life, Democratic lawmakers in Annapolis expressed outrage.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (Anne Arundel) called the episode "deplorable," and Sen. Brian E. Frosh (Montgomery) urged his colleagues to give him full subpoena power for an investigation.

Two weeks later, though, legislative leaders have yet to devise a plan for an investigation, with lawmakers reluctant to draw attention from other priorities and uncertain how best to assume the role of the opposition after 36 years with a lock on power in Annapolis.

"This is uncharted territory," Busch said. "There are some people who want to charge ahead and others who want to apply the brakes."

Chief among those trying to slow down a response has been Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert). Miller said this week that he has only recently come to believe there should be an inquiry into the matter, and he said the probe should be narrow in scope.

The longtime Senate leader said he does not want "to see us on a witch hunt" and expressed concern about stirring the political waters during the 90-day General Assembly session, while key legislative priorities -- including Miller's desire to see slot machines legalized -- bank on the governor's signature.

Miller said he is contemplating a narrow legislative inquiry, to take place after the session concludes in April, that bypasses questions about how rumors about Mayor Martin O'Malley's personal life have been circulated. O'Malley (D) has vehemently denied the gossip. Instead, Miller said, any probe would center on the role Ehrlich aide Joseph Steffen and other operatives might have played in the firing of scores of state employees.

Miller said he was unnerved by "the possibility [that state employees] could get terminated by some rogue plant who moves from department to department just to ferret out people who were politically active in their private life."

If that was occurring, he said, "then there has to be an inquiry."

More evidence emerged yesterday to lend credence to that notion. A state government source provided The Washington Post with copies of scores of e-mail exchanges between top Ehrlich officials and Michael Richard, who once served as a point man in the governor's appointments office.

The e-mails offer a revealing look at how hiring and firing decisions were being made in Maryland's first Republican administration in a generation. In one instance, Richard writes to Deputy Chief of Staff Mary Beth Carozza that a prospective employee's application to the health department is nixed because "there is an issue related to 'commitment to Ehrlich.' "

Another applicant is referred to as "a Kendel priority," referring to first lady Kendel S. Ehrlich.

In another instance, Chief of Staff Steven L. Kreseski sent Richard a copy of a Baltimore business leader's e-mail expressing concerns about promoting a Department of Business and Economic Development administrator. The employee's work in a Democratic administration "will create problems with [Ehrlich's] image as a leader who wants the state to be business friendly and open to new ideas," the e-mail says.

Richard said in an interview yesterday that applicants "certainly had to have a desire to serve Governor Ehrlich," and he noted that the first lady "was a good reference to have."

Frosh said any inquiry will have to clarify the distinctions between the patronage spoils system that is an accepted part of life in public service and decisions to fire otherwise qualified mid-level bureaucrats solely because of their political beliefs.

"To me, there have been some glaring violations of the law and a clear misuse of executive authority, and I think they warrant an investigation," Frosh said.

He pointed to the case of Vincent Gardina, a former state engineer who is also a Democrat on the Baltimore County Council. Gardina sued after he was fired, and the case was settled for $100,000 before members of Ehrlich's staff could be deposed.

"The first question I want to ask is, 'Who told you to fire him, and what was the reason given?' " Frosh said.

Busch said he wants to learn whether there has been an orchestrated effort to intimidate and demoralize longtime state workers. He cited reports of Steffen placing a grim reaper figurine on his desk and of former Ehrlich aide Greg Maddalone hanging a T-shirt from "The Apprentice" television show in his state transit administration office that read, "You're Fired."

"Any behavior that attempts to demean state workers, it seems to me, is well within the purview of the legislature," Busch said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

So let me get this straight: Democrats are demanding an investigation in to cronyism. Do they have any idea how insane that sounds? Every dug-in bureaucrat in Maryland government is finally on notice and they are climbing the walls and pounding the press for exposure. Do they really want that? Virtually every person currently on the tax payers' dime was put in place by the Democrat party. And somehow attacking cronyism will absolve them of, well, cronyism.

They must really think we're stupid.

And another thing. I'm beginning to think that Mike Miller has got something to hide. So I'll just ask: Mike Miller, are you MD4Bush?


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