A spokesman for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) said Tuesday that he followed all requirements in using campaign funds to pay for the criminal defense of a top aide charged with voter suppression.
The Post reported Monday that a campaign account maintained by Ehrlich was used to pay more than $100,000 last year to law firms involved in the criminal defense of his 2010 campaign manager, Paul E. Schurick.
Schurick was convicted in December by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from an Election Night robocall that prosecutors said was intended to mislead black voters into staying home.
“We followed all requirements,” Gregory Massoni, a long-time aide to Ehrlich, said in a brief interview Tuesday. Massoni had been unavailable on Monday.
In the past, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office has advised other candidates that they may use campaign funds to pay legal fees related to election-law cases but not to cover costs of actions unrelated to their candidacies.
A campaign finance report filed last week by Ehrlich lists payments to two law firms known to have worked on Schurick’s defense: the Law Offices of A. Dwight Pettit and DLA Piper. Together, those firms received just over $100,000 from the Ehrlich campaign.
Ehrlich lists roughly another $63,000 in payments to another law firm, Irwin Green & Dexter. An aide said that firm was retained by Ehrlich’s campaign committee but that its work was not limited to Schurick’s defense.
Ehrlich was among those who testified in Schurick’s defense at the trial.
The robocall in question, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed to about 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. With just hours before he polls closed, recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful.
Schurick maintained at trial that the calls were meant to motivate Ehrlich supporters to vote. Schurick is scheduled to be sentenced next month.