Townsend wants Ehrlich ad yanked

Says claims of corruption are unfair, unsubstantiated

September 24, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's campaign yesterday demanded that Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. take his latest television advertisement off the air, saying it levels unfair allegations of corruption.

The 30-second ad includes a graphic with the words "The Glendening-Townsend Record: Corruption, Budget Deficits, Traffic," as Ehrlich says, "Corruption, budget deficits and traffic jams are a way of life." It began running in the Washington suburbs during the weekend.

A spokesman for Townsend said the "corruption" accusation is not true and crosses the line of what's appropriate in the campaign.

"He makes a charge that he does not substantiate," said Townsend campaign spokesman Peter Hamm. "He's flashing the word `corruption' on TV. He has nothing of any kind to accuse his opponent of. He should be ashamed."

But Ehrlich defended the ad yesterday, listing a series of allegations from Gov. Parris N. Glendening's two terms that he says back the corruption charge. Those events include:

Federal investigations into two state agencies under Townsend's oversight, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention. The anti-crime office investigation is looking into whether grants were given for political purposes.

Efforts by Glendening to become chancellor of the University System of Maryland. After announcing his interest in the post, he was forced to withdraw amid criticism for seeking a job selected by regents whom he appointed.

The Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into financial dealings of the chairman of the Board of Regents, who is a longtime ally of Glendening.

A Prince George's County pension change that would have given a big boost to benefits for Glendening as county executive. Amid criticism, Glendening said he would not accept the benefits.

Efforts by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and other Democratic senators to talk to appellate court judges who were considering the legality of Glendening's legislative redistricting plan. The General Assembly's ethics committee reprimanded Miller.

Ehrlich also pointed to a federal judge's description of Annapolis in 2000 as "a culture of corruption" - though that quote referred more to the actions of lobbyists.

"They allowed that culture to exist and get worse over the last eight years," Ehrlich said.

Hamm said the investigations are unproven and the other charges are unrelated to the lieutenant governor.

A spokesman for Glendening said yesterday that the governor would prefer to leave "campaign rhetoric" to campaigners.

House Majority leader Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, who called the accusations "outrageous," said Ehrlich supporters include an Annapolis lobbyist who went to prison and a Baltimore senator reprimanded by the ethics committee.

"You don't find Bruce Bereano and Clarence Mitchell IV working in the Townsend campaign," McIntosh said. "Ehrlich has some nerve."

The Townsend campaign also pointed to two 1987 Assembly bills related to lawsuits filed by victims of asbestos. Ehrlich worked for a law firm that defended asbestos manufacturers, and he voted as a delegate to protect those companies and limit the rights of victims, Hamm said.

Ehrlich said the votes are 15 years old and have been answered in previous campaigns.

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