Gov. Marvin Mandel will "absolutely not" be ready to stand trial May 31 because he is not recuperating fast enough, his wife said today.
"All he wants to do is get this crazy thing behind him," Jeanne Mandel told reporters at a fund-raiser in her husband's behalf at the Kent Island Yacht Club here. Asked if she were referring to his illness or the political corruption trial, Mrs. Mandel responded, "Both."
About 250 persons, all - according to the tickets they purchased - "friends of Gov. Marvin Mandel," paid $20 each to eat rare roast beef, drink beer,talk politics, and gamble under pine trees at the water's edge on this island near the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
The guests included Lt. Gov. Blair Lee III, a dozen members of the General Assembly, and some lobbyists. There were no speeches, but Mrs. Mandel, who attended in place of her husband, talked freely with reporters for the first time since the governor was released from the hospital April 27.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Taylor who set the May 31 date for the start of Mandel's retrial on political corruption charges, warned at a hearing last Tuesday tht he wanted "no more motions" for delay. He indicated that it might be necessary to "take a risk" and resume the trial even though Mandel might not have fully recovered from the apparent slight stroke that hospitalized him on April 5.
"As his wife, who is with him 24 hours a day, and as a layman, he won't be ready>" Mrs. Mandel said while munching on a roast beef sandwich. "That's my observation," she said adding that "he can't sit in a chair for two hours without getting so tired he has to lie down."
The governor's health is "improving," she said, but she noted that his doctors have repeatedly told him "you must realize this thing takes time."
She said Mandel "gets very frustrated" and asks when he can "start doing things again." He shows his frustration by "bitting on his pipe" which he does "as hard as ever, although he doesn't smoke it as much" as before the illness, she said.
Asked whether Mandel might consider a suggestion from Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald S. Liebman that he not attend court during the selection of the jury, Mrs. Mandel said, "He'd never stand for that. He has a very expert legal mind, and is a good judge of people. He was a big help (to his defense attorney)" in picking jurors for the first trial, which was aborted Dec. 7 when the jurors learned of two efforts to tamper with the jury.
Mrs. Mandel said she hopes the governor will soon start a "gradual" resumption of normal activities, beginning, for example, with a walk around the garden at the Governor's Mansion in Annapolis.
She said Mandel has an appointment with Dr. Marvin Korengold, a Bethesda neurologist, on May 24.
He is taking two kinds of medication, and in addition to tiring easily, still finds it difficult to concentrate for prolonged periods of time. For a man who used to need only four hours of sleep and could read intricate legislative documents for hours, his present condition is especially frustrating, Mrs. Mandel said.
When she left the mansion about noon today, to come to the party, Mandel was "terribly angry because I'm here with all his buddies and he's stuck back there reading and petting the dog."
Sponsors of the bull roast were unable to say how much money they would make from the event. Chairman James (Jay) White III, a Kent County lawyer, thought about 800 tickets had been sold. But Ed Lupinek, a seafood dealer from Chester, said the figure was closer to 350.
Most of the proceeds will go to Mandel, either as part of his legal defense fund or for his private use, but some money also will be donated to a couple of Eastern Shore charities.
"You have to do that (contribute to charity) because of the games," said White, nodding toward a dice table and wheel of fortune.
In addition to politicians, judges, and lobbyists, guests included a few people who apparently bought tickets just because they considered themselves friends of the governor, and becaue it turned out ot be a nice day to eat good food and sit on the shore.
Among that rather small group were Jim and Pat Wilson of Queenstown, who plunked down $40 "because Frank Harris (Mandel's legislative aide and an organizer of the event) asked us," said Wilson.