“In hindsight, I probably should have assumed there was drinking and talked to the chaperones about what they thought was appropriate,” Gansler said. But Maryland’s top law enforcement official said he was there as a parent, hoping to talk briefly to his teenage son about travel plans, and not as “a police officer or anything else.”
He saw teenagers drinking from red plastic cups that night, Gansler said. “There could be Kool-Aid in the red cups,” he said, “but there’s probably beer in the red cups.”
Gansler, 50, called the news conference in response to a Baltimore Sun story that included a photograph of him amid a throng of teenagers, three of whom were dancing on a tabletop.
At the news conference, Gansler was shown a copy of the photo that appears to show him holding a phone. When asked whether he was taking a photo with it, he said he had not yet learned how to do that with his new iPhone. He said he thought he was reading a text message.
Gansler told reporters that he visited “a dance party with loud music” to tell his son what time they had to leave Delaware in the morning. “What I’m doing in that picture is walking through — my son was upstairs; he was the DJ,” he said. “I walked through the party, walked through the dance floor, walked upstairs, talked to my son, walked downstairs and left.”
In the photograph, two other adults can be seen in the corner of the room, one of them holding what appears to be a wine glass.
The June 13 party took place at a six-bedroom rental home in South Bethany, Del., where Gansler’s son was staying with close to a dozen other graduates of the Landon School in Bethesda during “beach week.” Gansler said that his name was not on the lease but that he contributed to the rent.
He said that he faced the tensions facing any parent of a teenager: “How much do you let them go? How much do you rein them in? . . . I’m really no different from any other parent.” He said neither he nor his son was drinking.
Other photos and videos posted on social media from the party depict a wild environment at the house, with teenagers standing on a bar and perched on a banister in the main room as others dance below to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Gansler’s appearance at the beach party is the latest episode to detract from the fledgling Democratic primary campaign, in which Gansler faces Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery) in June.