Md. Official Offends With Comments on Female Aide
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The public meeting had just begun yesterday morning when a 24-year-old woman delivered a mug of tea to Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.
Schaefer (D) watched her walk away, appearing to stare at her backside, then motioned for her to come back.
"Walk again," he told the woman, an administrative aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).
She headed out, seemingly flustered, and later told other Ehrlich aides that she had been embarrassed.
The episode, at a state Board of Public Works meeting with more than 100 people in attendance, brought a rain of criticism from women's organizations and some lawmakers who learned about it. But the 84-year-old comptroller defended his behavior and berated reporters who asked whether he believed his actions were offensive.
"That's so goddamn dumb I can't believe it," said Schaefer, a former governor and mayor of Baltimore who is seeking reelection this year. "I look at one of the girls as she walked out. Big deal. . . . I look at the girls every time they walk out. The day I don't look at pretty girls, I die."
Schaefer then went into an adjoining governor's suite and soon returned, acknowledging that "the girl" had been embarrassed.
"A little girl walks out, and I make a joke out of it," he said, expressing dismay. "The one who is offended is me. . . . I can't believe you are making a deal out of that."
The woman declined requests for interviews through the governor's press office.
The biweekly meetings of the Board of Public Works -- a three-member panel that includes Ehrlich, Schaefer and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) --have frequently turned into rant sessions for the comptroller.
In recent years, he has provoked outrage by complaining about a Spanish-speaking McDonald's clerk and suggesting the creation of a public registry of people with AIDS.
After his comments yesterday, Sen. Sharon M. Grosfeld (D-Montgomery) called on Schaefer to publicly apologize to the aide and to "recognize the sexism inherent in his behavior."