“This extremely irresponsible behavior is non-stop and occurs on a daily basis,” Lt. Charles Ardolini, commander of the state police executive protection section, wrote in a December 2011 memo that said the problem had existed for five years. “Attorney General Gansler has consistently acted in a way that disregards public safety, our Troopers safety and even the law.”
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Gansler said the portrait that emerges from the state police memos and e-mails obtained by The Washington Post under the Maryland Public Information Act is untrue. A spokesman for the attorney general said long-running animosity between Gansler and Ardolini was partly responsible.
“The picture being painted by these documents is not an accurate reflection of reality,” said Gansler, a former Montgomery County state’s attorney who was first elected attorney general in 2006. “I deeply respect the troopers and job they do protecting me and the public. A few of the 18 troopers who have provided me protection felt my backseat driving made them uncomfortable — for that I apologize.”
The troopers’ complaints were summarized by Ardolini in the December 2011 memo to his superior, which led to a meeting between Gansler and the leader of the state police. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) was briefed, aides said, and authorized the police to take whatever corrective action they deemed necessary, including revoking Gansler’s transportation services.
Bob Wheelock, a spokesman for Gansler, said that the SUV used to transport Gansler is owned by the attorney general’s office and that Gansler is free to drive it whenever he wants. Wheelock also denied that Gansler had ever driven the vehicle with lights and sirens on or that he had turned them on when troopers were driving.
Any suggestions made by Gansler about how the troopers should drive, Wheelock said, were no more than that — suggestions that they were free to ignore. State police report to the governor, not Gansler, a separately elected official, with no direct authority over the troopers assigned to him.
The late 2011 meeting between Gansler and Col. Marcus L. Brown, the superintendent of state police, was arranged by a senior aide to O’Malley, who was concerned about safety issues surrounding Gansler’s travels, an aide to the governor said. (O’Malley has endorsed Gansler’s chief rival in next year’s Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.)