Democrat's e-mail address tied to postings

It was used in discussion with Steffen about O'Malley

December 16, 2005|By JENNIFER SKALKA | JENNIFER SKALKA,SUN REPORTER

An e-mail address of a former state Democratic Party worker was used in a discussion about Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's marriage on a conservative Web site, a spokesman for the site said yesterday.

Kristinn Taylor, a spokesman for free republic.com, said Ryan O'Doherty's Democratic Party address was one of at least three used to operate the identity of MD4BUSH, the mysterious Internet poster who appears to have coaxed an aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. into talking about the mayor's personal life.

MD4BUSH sought out another freerepublic visitor known as ncpac, who was later revealed to be longtime Ehrlich political aide Joseph F. Steffen Jr.

Steffen confirmed to a Washington Post reporter in February that he wrote the e-mails discussing O'Malley rumors. But after publishing several articles, the Post acknowledged that the reporter, Matthew Mosk, had logged on as MD4BUSH from his work computer to verify the exchange, further complicating the story.

Taylor said the latest information about e-mail addresses - which the Web site previously refused to release citing privacy rules - indicates that the Ehrlich aide was unfairly targeted by the governor's opponents.

"I think people ought to be concerned that political operatives and Washington Post reporters will violate your Internet privacy for their own nefarious purposes," Taylor said.

Taylor identified three e-mail addresses yesterday that he said "were used to register and maintain the account" for MD4BUSH. They are ryanrock2004@yahoo.com (used to open the account in October 2004); rodoherty@md dems.org; and brianwaver ly@yahoo.com. The e-mail addresses were first reported by WBAL-TV this week.

A spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party confirmed that O'Doherty, the party's director of communications and research from February 2004 to January 2005, used the rodoherty@mddems.org address.

Spokesman Derek Walker said the Maryland Democratic Party had nothing to do with the MD4BUSH postings.

"Under no circumstances does the Maryland Democratic Party condone personal attacks even as a response to a personal attack or a dirty trick by the Ehrlich administration," Walker said.

O'Doherty, a business development coordinator for the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, did not return a call requesting comment.

Taylor said it was possible for someone other than O'Doherty to register his party e-mail with the MD4BUSH account.

"We don't know that it was Ryan O'Doherty that registered the account or put that e-mail on there," Taylor said.

The founder of free republic.com, Jim Robinson, declined to comment on the e-mail addresses.

Robinson did, however, post a message on the site Wednesday, saying that he had given some information about the e-mails to "a trusted professional ... who is helping us get to the bottom of this matter." He did not identify that individual, nor would Taylor.

"I'm not concerned that it's going public," Robinson wrote.

A spokesman for the Post said previously that the newspaper did not know the identity of MD4BUSH and that Mosk worked with an intermediary to get his information. A Post editor said yesterday the his paper had nothing to add to previous statements.

Mosk logged on as MD4BUSH using information provided by the source, fueling speculation among Republicans that the state government reporter was part of a Democratic scheme to make Ehrlich look bad.

Walker, the Democratic spokesman, said the timing of Robinson's message and the leak about the MD4BUSH e-mail addresses is suspicious. It comes two days after a former state employee testified to a special committee that the Ehrlich administration dispatched Steffen to fire state workers because of their political affiliations.

"They're trying to derail the entire review process by the legislature by dribbling out something that is not new news," Walker said.

jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com

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