GOP leader criticizes Glendening's reported relationship with aide

Miller rebukes Schaefer

most reaction is muted

September 01, 2001|By Michael Dresser and David Nitkin | Michael Dresser and David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

In the wake of a published report about Gov. Parris N. Glendening's relationship with a high-ranking aide, the state's GOP chief sharply criticized the governor while Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller blasted Comptroller William Donald Schaefer for initially bringing the woman into the spotlight.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Glendening has spent the night at the home of Jennifer Crawford, a deputy chief of his staff, and that the two vacationed together in Fenwick Island, Del.

Glendening, 59, has been separated from his wife, Frances Anne, for more than a year. Crawford, 34, is unmarried.

Michael Morrill, the governor's chief spokesman, said neither Glendening nor Crawford would talk about the report. "We do not comment on the governor's private life," he said - a quotation he has repeated through months of rumors in political circles about the relationship.

Most of the reaction yesterday was muted, with many officials expressing reluctance to comment. In a typical reaction, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., a Cumberland Democrat, said the governor's personal life was "none of my business."

Michael Steele, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, was an exception - calling the relationship "an absolute embarrassment to the state of Maryland."

"If he wants to cheat on his wife, fine, have it. But if you are going to cheat on your wife with a public employee, then we [taxpayers] are paying for it," Steele said.

A spokesman for Mrs. Glendening said she would not comment.

The Post, which had been withholding an article on the governor's personal life for months, said it was prompted to publish its report by remarks made by Schaefer at a Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday - in which he called Crawford "the big boss" in the governor's office. The Sun reported Schaefer's remarks Thursday.

Schaefer's comments about Crawford - prompted by his dispute with Glendening over a fountain at the governor's mansion - drew a rebuke yesterday from Senate President Miller. The Prince George's County Democrat, a longtime Schaefer critic, called the move "the newest low William Donald Schaefer has sunk to in his effort to hurt the current governor."

The former governor declined a request for an interview yesterday. A spokesman, Michael Golden, said Schaefer was not trying to make public the governor's private relationship with Crawford - he just wants the governor to turn the fountain back on.

Del. Robert H. Kittleman, the House minority leader, doubted the dispute would hurt the comptroller. "He can get away with things no one else could," the Howard County Republican said.

Crawford was promoted last year from appointments secretary to deputy chief of staff, with a salary of $103,588. She has sometimes joined the governor as part of his entourage on out-of-state trips, mainly in her role as a key adviser on Smart Growth.

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