The state police union demanded yesterday that Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley release his application to practice law to determine whether he properly disclosed a nearly 20-year-old drunken driving charge.
Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President John "Rodney" Bartlett Jr. said in a statement that O'Malley's refusal to release the document raises questions about the mayor's ethics and moral character.
"Mr. O'Malley refuses to release a copy of his bar application, leading to the inevitable conclusion that he failed to complete it honestly and properly," the statement said. "Although his arrest and acquittal 20 years ago on a driving under the influence charge may be irrelevant to his ability to serve as Governor, his ability to tell the truth completely and without qualification is extremely relevant."
The move by the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police was seen privately by the mayor's campaign as a political move by a union that supports O'Malley's Republican rival, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Publicly, however, campaign aides declined to discuss the matter.
"We said all we're going to say about this a week ago when it first came out," said O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney.
In 1987, O'Malley was charged with driving or attempting to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A law student at the time, O'Malley was acquitted of the charge.
Since news of the incident arose last week, the mayor has refused to release his application to become a lawyer, a form that requires the disclosure of all criminal proceedings -- including traffic citations. O'Malley has said that he does not remember whether he disclosed the charge.
Ehrlich's chief of staff, James C. "Chip" DiPaula Jr., and a spokesman, Henry Fawell, were copied on the e-mail release of the union's statement.
Ehrlich released his bar application last week, and it showed that he answered "no" to the questions about whether he had been a party to any criminal proceeding or whether there had been any "unfavorable incidents" in his life that would bear on his character or fitness to practice law.
Ehrlich has said O'Malley's charge should not play out in the election.
The governor has previously been quoted as saying he had his own brush with the law as a young man when he and a friend scalped tickets to Princeton University sporting events to make extra money during college. Ehrlich has said the matter was handled by Princeton University officials, not the police, as he said in an interview four years ago. So the matter did not warrant reporting on his application to the Maryland bar.