Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler took his latest jab at Democratic rival Anthony G. Brown on Wednesday, releasing a Web video that mocks Brown for taking campaign donations from health-care interests while overseeing the botched rollout of the state’s online insurance exchange.
“Gee. Maybe when Brown was calling to raise money for his political campaign, he should’ve stopped to ask how the Web site was going,” the 45-second ad says.
The ad adds that Brown, the state’s lieutenant governor, accepted more than $100,000 from health-care interests, “including companies and individuals linked to the exchange.”
Brown’s campaign said that Gansler, the state’s attorney general, is being “hypocritical” because his campaign has accepted “tens of thousands of dollars from attorneys who have business with the state.”
Backup material provided by Gansler’s campaign notes $8,550 in contributions to Brown and his running mate from vendors with contracts related to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and $22,700 from insurance carriers and their executives dating to 2011.
The Gansler campaign also cited about $15,000 in contributions from lobbyists for those parties, although in many cases, the lobbyists listed had several other clients doing business in Annapolis and a long history of donating to Brown and other candidates.
The money is a fraction of what Brown has raised during his campaign for governor. Last week, Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D), reported raising about $5.4 million during the past year — more than three times what was collected by Gansler and his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s).
But Gansler’s campaign has continued to press whatever advantage it can find related to Maryland’s glitch-ridden health exchange. Brown co-chairs a council that is overseeing implementation of the federal health-care law in Maryland.
In a statement, Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, said that “campaign contributions have absolutely no role in policy decisions or governing.”
Schall also questioned Gansler’s motives for continuing to highlight the health exchange.
“It’s disappointing that Gansler continues to inject politics into this issue, but the lieutenant governor remains focused on expanding access to quality, affordable health care and working with a broad coalition of Marylanders to find solutions to the challenges of implementing Obamacare,” Schall said.
Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock pushed back against the suggestion from the Brown campaign that Gansler is being hypocritical by accepting campaign contributions from lawyers who do business with the state.
In the cases when Gansler’s office employs outside lawyers, it uses “a competitive process . . . to prevent even the appearance of impropriety in the selection of counsel,” Wheelock said.
The June Democratic primary also includes Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery).