Gonzales to discuss vote flier confusion

January 19, 2007|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,Sun Reporter

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday that there was little he could do about Republican campaign brochures distributed in Maryland on Election Day that Democrats said were designed to mislead African-American voters.

But he agreed to meet with Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin to discuss the issue.

Cardin, a Democratic candidate in that election, pressed Gonzales on the issue during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"If there is an effort made to deny minorities full participation in the state of Maryland, you have a responsibility to do something about that," he told Gonzales.

The full-color brochures, which were sponsored by the campaigns of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele - Cardin's opponent in the November election - listed the Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate as the top choices on a "Democratic sample ballot."

The fliers were distributed outside polling places in predominantly African-American precincts in Baltimore and Prince George's County.

They also appeared to suggest that Ehrlich and Steele had been endorsed by former Rep. Kweisi Mfume and Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson. Mfume and Johnson, both black Democrats, were in fact supporting Cardin.

Gonzales said federal law did not provide tools for "going after campaign tactics or rhetoric by candidates."

However, he proposed a meeting to talk in greater detail "about these cases and others in your state."

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