Schaefer Apologizes to Ehrlich Aide

By John Wagner and Ann E. Marimow
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 18, 2006

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer abruptly reversed course yesterday afternoon and issued a handwritten apology to a 24-year-old aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. whom Schaefer ogled in a public meeting this week.

Just hours earlier, the 84-year-old comptroller insisted to reporters during a prickly encounter that there was no reason to apologize for an incident that took place Wednesday and has mushroomed into a national embarrassment.

Aides had been urging Schaefer, who is up for reelection this year, to apologize and attempt to contain the damage since shortly after the incident occurred.

A senior aide to Schaefer (D) hand-delivered the 24-word letter to Elizabeth Krum, an administrative assistant in the governor's office, about 2:45 p.m. and later distributed copies to reporters.

"You have handled the 'affair' as a trooper," Schaefer wrote on Comptroller's Office letterhead. "Sorry you were put thru [th]is ordeal!" The letter, parts of which were hard to read, was signed "Don Schaefer."

Krum declined to comment, but her father, Allen Krum, said she accepted Schaefer's apology and "really just wants to get on with her life right now."

The episode occurred early in a meeting of the Board of Public Works, a panel comprising Ehrlich (R), Schaefer and State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D). The aide delivered a mug of tea to Schaefer, a former governor and mayor of Baltimore who recently celebrated 50 years in public service.

Schaefer watched Krum walk away, appearing to stare at her backside, then motioned for her to come back. "Walk again," he told her. She headed out seemingly flustered and later told other Ehrlich aides that she had been embarrassed.

The comptroller's behavior provoked widespread criticism from women's organizations and other Maryland politicians and has received national media attention.

Louise Hayman, the long-serving Schaefer aide who delivered the letter, said advisers had urged Schaefer to apologize sooner. But it wasn't until recently, she said, that Schaefer "began to realize the impact on her life. It proved to be very disruptive to her."

Some critics, though, questioned whether Schaefer accepted responsibility in the letter.

"He's apologizing for the negative publicity rather than his inappropriate behavior," said Del. Peter Franchot (Montgomery), who is challenging Schaefer in the Democratic primary.

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