Gansler pays D.C. for speed-camera ticket

October 22, 2013

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) on Tuesday used personal funds to pay a $400 speed-camera ticket issued to his state-owned vehicle 16 months ago that he had previously denied receiving.

In a statement, Gansler sought to clarify that, saying, “Apparently, my office did receive a photo-camera ticket for my state vehicle from the District of Columbia.” He said the ticket was “inadvertently not paid” while his office was determining who was driving at the time — Gansler or one of the state troopers assigned to him.

“Without me determining who was driving, I have paid the ticket,” Gansler said.

A Maryland State Police spokesman said Tuesday that a trooper was not driving when the citation was issued. And an e-mail obtained by The Washington Post from a member of the State Police executive protection section said that Gansler was the one behind the wheel.

In the Aug. 29 e-mail, the trooper wrote that when informed of the ticket, Gansler said that “he wasn’t going to pay it.”


Doug Gansler (Rebecca D'Angelo/For The Washington Post)

The citation is one of numerous points of contention between Gansler and State Police that emerged this month in a Washington Post report documenting allegations that Gansler regularly ordered troopers to speed and run red lights en route to routine appointments and would sometimes take over the wheel himself out of frustration.

Gansler has strongly denied those allegations, saying they were largely the result of a long-standing feud between him and the head of the State Police executive protection section, Lt. Charles Ardolini. Gansler has characterized Ardolini as a politically motivated “henchman” who favors his chief rival in next year’s governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) — something the State Police deny.

When first asked about the speeding ticket this month, a spokesman told The Post that Gansler did not recall ever receiving one. Later, during a television interview, Gansler told NewsChannel 8’s Bruce DePuyt: “There’s a public record to show I never got a speeding ticket, so we know that’s not true.”

Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock said Tuesday that in Gansler’s mind, there’s a distinction between an “old-fashioned” ticket a motorist receives after being pulled over by police and an infraction captured by a speed camera, with the resulting ticket mailed to the owner of the vehicle.

The ticket in question was sent to the Attorney General’s Office, which owns the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe used to transport Gansler.

On June 11, 2012, the vehicle was traveling between 21 and 25 mph over the speed limit in the 2300 block of Porter Street NW, according to the District’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The speed limit there is 30 mph.

When the ticket arrived at Gansler’s Baltimore office, a secretary forwarded it to the State Police, according to the e-mail obtained by The Post. The e-mail was sent to Ardolini. The Post obtained the e-mail through a Maryland Public Information Act request. The name of the trooper who wrote it was redacted.

The trooper wrote that he had determined that “while the Attorney General was operating the vehicle in DC he received a citation in the mail for a speed camera violation.”

“I told him about the ticket and he said he wasn’t going to pay it,” the trooper wrote.

District DMV spokeswoman Vanessa E. Newton said that the fine was $200 and that it doubled because of nonpayment.

On Tuesday, Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley continued to stand by the police account that troopers were not the ones speeding. “We know we were not driving that vehicle,” he said.

The documents obtained by The Post also include references to a second speeding ticket issued to Gansler’s vehicle at a time when troopers say they were not driving.

Wheelock said Gansler has no intention of paying that ticket, which was issued at a toll booth, because his office has determined he was not in the area at the time.

Because the car is owned by his office, not the State Police, Gansler takes the view that he can drive it as he pleases. On Tuesday, he drove himself to a political event in College Park.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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