GOP acknowledges funding Schisler lawsuit


The Maryland Republican Party acknowledged yesterday that it financially supported Public Service Commission Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler's lawsuit to keep his job, despite stringent denials the day before.

Party spokeswoman Audra Miller said yesterday that she had been incorrect to assert that a $20,000 payment from the GOP's federal campaign account to the law firm representing Schisler was not for the former Republican delegate's lawsuit. She declined to elaborate further on the payment.

Schisler is fighting a law passed by the General Assembly firing him and the other members of the commission. The law was enacted during this summer's special session of the legislature amid criticism by Democrats and some Republicans that Schisler and other commissioners appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. were too friendly to industry and had not done enough to protect consumers.

Schisler's suit challenges the law on constitutional grounds, saying the legislature overstepped its powers. Attorney Andrew Radding of the Baltimore firm Adelberg Rudow Dorf & Hendler filed the lawsuit on Schisler's behalf in late June. Two weeks later, according to campaign finance reports, the state Republican Party paid the firm $20,000.

On Friday, Miller said the payment was not for Schisler's lawsuit, and she threatened that the party would "immediately demand a retraction and a correction" if The Sun implied otherwise.

A Circuit Court judge upheld the law, but the Court of Appeals has entered an injunction against the firings until it renders a full decision.

The law, passed over Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s veto, specified that any challenges would have to be filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court and could not be funded with public money.

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