Cardin campaign staffer fired over racial blog posts

September 17, 2006|By John Fritze | John Fritze,sun reporter

In another posting, the blogger — U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin's campaign has fired a staff member who maintained a blog with racially tinged postings that included her view that the "racism card hovers constantly" over the veteran congressman's run for Senate.

In another posting, the blogger - who wrote under the name Persuasionatrix - said a Cardin campaign staff member has kept his job only because he is black and "plays the racism card, the magic passport to a different chain of command."

Cardin, who is white, received the Democratic nomination for Senate last week, defeating former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who is black. Cardin faces Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who is black, in the general election.

Cardin spokesman Oren Shur confirmed yesterday that the staff member who kept the blog was fired Friday, shortly after the campaign learned of the blog.

"I am deeply offended and disgusted by the blog's racial and anti-Semitic overtones," read a statement released by the campaign yesterday. "The staff member responsible was promptly dismissed and will have nothing to do with this campaign."

The blog included a posting Aug. 27 that said, "It's an unfortunate situation when you're running an established, older, white candidate against a dynamic, younger African American. It's unfortunate, because the racism card hovers constantly, just waiting to be dealt."

In an Aug. 25 posting, the blogger refers to "devouring the competition" by eating Oreo cookies stored in the campaign's pantry. Oreo cookies became an issue when Steele said they were thrown at him during a debate in Baltimore in 2002 - an act perceived as a racially insensitive attack.

The fired employee, Ursula Gruber, could not be reached for comment.

In another posting, titled "Why am I a Sex Object for Old, Jewish Men?" the blogger described men associated with the Cardin campaign as having "Jewish noses" and being a "little bit creepy." Cardin is Jewish.

The postings suggest the blogger is a female from Chicago and that she is a member of the "senior staff," who oversee other campaign workers. The postings also suggest the person worked phone banks, calling possible supporters. Shur described the employee as a junior staff member who had been with the campaign for about a month.

Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Steele, said the incident was another example of how the Democratic Party was working to discredit Steele in the African-American community.

"It's clear that this attitude has permeated through the Cardin campaign as well," Sellers said in a statement. "Marylanders are sick of this consistent pattern of gutter politics and racial attacks, and they will vote for change in November."

The connection between the Cardin campaign and the Persuasionatrix postings was first disclosed by a political blog, wizbangblog.com, and received wider attention when The Washington Times included the item on its politics blog.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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