Aron attacks letter supporting Brock as 'racist'

August 26, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

U.S. Senate candidate Ruthann Aron denounced as "extortionist" and "racist" yesterday a letter that the head of the Anne Arundel Taxpayers Association sent in support of her opponent, Bill Brock.

Robert C. Schaeffer, who two years ago led the successful fight to impose a property tax cap on county government, sent the letter urging all Republican candidates in Anne Arundel County to actively support Mr. Brock.

Mr. Schaeffer suggested they put Brock stickers on their yard signs or a Brock sign alongside their own.

"I feel so strongly about this, that I can tell you unequivocally that any Taxpayer Association support which I can personally influence for any Republican candidate in this county is contingent upon that candidate's active support of Brock," Mr. Schaeffer wrote on stationery with the association's letterhead.

The letter closes by stating that Mr. Brock is the Republican candidate with the best chance of ousting incumbent Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat.

"Anne Arundel County is the one county, with a large enough turn-out and an unified vote, which can counter the automatic opposition vote of the underclass in Baltimore and the D.C. suburbs," Mr. Schaeffer wrote.

Ms. Aron denounced the letter as "disgusting."

"Bill Brock should be ashamed, embarrassed and owes all the citizens of Maryland an apology for the racial and extortionist statements made by one of his supporters, Robert C. Schaeffer," her statement said. "Racism and extortion have no place in American politics or in Maryland."

Ron Franks, the other Republican candidate, also condemned the letter. "It is unfortunate that someone in a position of trust, such as Bob Schaefer's position with the Anne Arundel Taxpayers Association, would attempt to use his position to achieve political gain," he said.

"I think it is an unfortunate use of language in the letter," said M. J. Jameson, a Brock campaign spokeswoman. "But I would point out to you, this is Mr. Schaeffer's language, Mr. Schaeffer's letter and Mr. Schaeffer's mailing."

None of the Republican candidates contacted yesterday had received the letter.

Lance Copsey, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said the letter's tone, particularly the last sentence, might be a problem.

"It's not something that I would write," he said. "But I think the intent is not troubling. You get a person in an organization that is trying to organize people in Anne Arundel County behind a candidate. That's what the campaign is all about."

Mr. Schaeffer defended the letter, saying he was speaking only for himself and not for the taxpayers association. "I suppose [Ms. Aron] would have been happy if I asked Republican candidates to support her," he said.

"I do not think the national committee is going to waste a whole lot of time and money on a campaign for Franks or Aron. But I think they will go to the hilt for Brock," he said. "I did it in my own county with my own candidate. So I don't see the problem here."

Mr. Schaeffer bristled at the suggestion that the letter was racist. "All the big cities have an underclass. Everybody knows what it is. Everybody knows it's unified and it votes Democratic. There's nothing racist about that," he said.

"Let's face it. I was out campaigning for Alan Keyes two years ago and he's a good friend of mine," he said, referring to the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who is black.

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