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Pole dancer photobombs Md. Lt. Gov. Brown at economic development party in Las Vegas

The politically conservative Web site the Daily Caller tweeted what seemed like a bombshell on Wednesday evening: “EXCLUSIVE: Is That A Pole Dancer? Frontrunner For Md. Governor Caught in Scandalous Photo.”

With less than three weeks until the Maryland Democratic primary, a truly scandalous photo could jolt an otherwise smooth campaign.

So rivals of Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown — who is leading in recent polls and fundraising in the race for governor — must have been a little disappointed when they saw the “scandalous” photo, which was reportedly snapped at a party during a massive economic development conference in Las Vegas last year.

In the photo, Brown sports an orange polo and poses with three women, two wearing name tags and the other sporting a cardigan that’s more soccer mom than exotic artist. To be clear: None of those women is the alleged pole dancer.

To see her, you have to study the upper left corner of the pic, maybe squint. She looks blond and scantily dressed, with one arm thrown into the air and the other wrapped around a pole, gripping a top hat. She looks like, well, a dancer in a Vegas nightclub.

Baltimore Business Journal reporter Kevin Litten wrote about this year’s version of the party in a May 20 article that described the scene: “People who have never attended . . . have often questioned the extravagance of celebrity impersonators, Las Vegas showgirls and poolside cabanas. But in Vegas, the Maryland party has become the ultimate promotional tool for developers, real estate brokers and politicians alike — a legendary place where deals get started and business connections sealed.”

Litten also posted photos from the event, including one of two women in red, white and blue bikinis, heels and feather headdresses, with the caption: “What’s Vegas without showgirls? They were dressed in patriotic to celebrate the Battle of Baltimore’s 200th anniversary.”

Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, confirmed the authenticity of the 2013 photo of Brown to the Daily Caller.

“I guess it’s the start of the silly season when an annual economic development conference with hundreds of elected Democrats, Republicans and business leaders becomes news,” Schall said Wednesday evening. “But I have faith that in 21 days voters will go to the polls focused on the issues that actually matter.”

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who is covering the 2016 presidential campaign.

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