Maryland State Racing Commission Chairman J. Newton Brewer has withdrawn as a candidate for reappointment because of opposition from legislators concerned about his role in Marlboro Race Track political corruption allegations.
Those allegations and Brewer's role in pushing 1972 legislation benefiting the secret owners of the track are scheduled to resurface in Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel's April retrial on corruption charges.
In a letter dated Feb. 22 and released today, the Montgomery County businessman said that "apparent opposition by some legislators" to the reappointment was the reason for his withdrawal.
By refusing the position, Brewer also avoids a potentially hostile hearing before the state Senate, which must approve all patronage appointments by the governor. Brewer was one of the nominees named last Friday in Mandel's "green bag" of political patronage appointments.
Mandel said today that he accepts Brewer's resignation "regretfully" and that he has no successor in mind. He also praised the 12-year veteran of the commission as "outstanding", a man who "is respected nationally for his knowledge of racing.
Brewer, was first appointed as commission member and chairman in 1965 by then Gov. J. Millard Tawes. But Brewer resigned from his chairmanship in 1967 so that then-Governor Spiro T. Agnew could appoint a Republican chairman.
The charges against Mandel center around his the secret purchase of the Marlboro Race Track by his co-associates and dedentants W. Dale Hess, Harry W. Rodgers III, William A. Rodgers and Ernest N. Cory Jr. and the efforts made by the governor to aid the track in part through a 1972 race track consolidation bill.
As commission chairman, Brewer played an influential role in lobbying for this race track bill but, he has vowed, without knowledge that Mandel's friends would have benefited from the legislation.
Testimony at the trial, however, placed Brewer at a meeting discussing the legislation with Hess. Before the indictments Brewer said in an interview with The Washington Post that he had attended that meeting.
There also has been repeated criticism of Brewer by legislators for his failure to appear at legislative hearings concerning the racing commission.
In past years, the criticism has come largely from regular Mandel critics such as State Sen. Julian L. Lapides (D-Baltimore). Following the U.S. indictment of Mandel and the governor's aborted trial, other legislators joined the critics.
Brewer, 59, has been unavailable to reporters inquiring about his role in the corruption allegations. He also was unavailable today.