The Washington Post

Gansler says he has no political motive in filing robocalls civil case

Any contention that he is trying to score political points in Maryland’s robocalls controversy is “absurd,” Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) says in a new legal filing.

Gansler was reacting to a claim by a lawyer for Julius Henson, a political operative who was indicted on charges that he orchestrated a misleading election-night robocall last year. Edward Smith Jr., a lawyer for Henson, has questioned Gansler’s motives for pursuing a civil case against his client, who was then working for former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), while a criminal case is pending.

“Defendants’ insistence on making the headline-grabbing argument hat the Attorney General’s interest in bringing this action for ‘political benefit’ is absurd and designed solely to distract from the issues in this case,” Gansler wrote in a filing Friday in federal court. “The Attorney General ran unopposed in the election in question, and he is not facing re-election until 2014. Thus, it is difficult to see how prompt resolution of this case would serve any purely political ends.”

Gansler has alleged that Henson violated federal law by arranging 112,000 robocalls that told voters they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had already won his rematch against Ehrlich. The polls were still open when the calls went out to homes in the heavily Democratic and majority African American jurisdictions of Baltimore and Prince George’s County.

Gansler, who is widely expected to run for governor in 2014, says Henson’s action were “a serious violation of a federal statute, the purpose of which was to mislead voters.”

His civil case related to the robocalls was filed several months before a grand jury in Baltimore indicted Henson and Paul E. Schurick, Ehrlich’s de facto campaign manager, on several criminal counts. The criminal indictments were sought by the office of the Maryland state prosecutor, which operates independently of Gansler.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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