Slacker golfer or Big Oil's go-to guy?

June 24, 2010|By Laura Vozzella, The Baltimore Sun

The goofiest part about the O'Malley campaign's absurd attempt to link Bob Ehrlich, in an attack ad released last week, to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?

It's not the part about the two pro-oil votes he cast as a congressman, the ones that put him in league with such Big Oil lackeys as Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski and then-Rep. Ben Cardin.

Or where the ad takes a snippet of Ehrlich saying, "Drill, baby, drill," and tries to pass it off as anything other than Ehrlich parroting his former lieutenant, Michael Steele. (The ex-gov from Arbutus is about as likely to share Steele's Telly Savalas-y "baby" verbal tic as he is Steele's hip-hop tailor.)

No, the really funny part is how the ad refers to "big oil lobbyist Bob Ehrlich" and says, "Ehrlich's lobbying firm represents CITGO, ExxonMobil and Shell Oil."

Never mind that Ehrlich is not a registered lobbyist on the local, state or federal level. Let's outfit him with a fedora and apron and put him to work with Jack Abramoff at Tov Pizza!

The North Carolina-based law firm that employs Ehrlich has represented CITGO, Exxon and Shell, but not out of the branch office in Baltimore where he works. The Baltimore office did represent a company that spilled 80,000 gallons of heating oil in South Baltimore. Ehrlich did not personally handle that case, but he leads the Baltimore office, so it's fair enough to tar him with that one. But the Gulf spill? C'mon!

It's not just that the "big oil lobbyist" line of attack doesn't jibe with the facts. It doesn't jibe with what the Democrats themselves have long been saying about Ehrlich.

Back when Ehrlich was governor, Democrats accused him of doing more golfing than governing.

When Ehrlich lost re-election and took a job at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, the Dems complained the gig was nothing more than a front for his four-year re-election campaign, a place where the ex-governor and a bunch of his nonlawyer communications pals could draw fat paychecks while plotting a return to Annapolis.

Just a couple of months ago, the Maryland Democratic Party was calling the law office Ehrlich's "de facto campaign headquarters." The state's director of candidacy and campaign finance even suggested that Womble Baltimore was one, big in-kind contribution to Bring Back Ehrlich, with on-the-clock firm employees doing campaign work.

Now, suddenly, the alleged slacker said to be doing nothing but planning a political comeback is Big Oil's go-to guy?

Say what you will about the oil companies, but I'm willing to bet they keep their lawyers too busy to moonlight as gubernatorial candidates.

I bounced that contradiction off O'Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese, who was not the least bit chagrined.

"You can lobby for the industry on the golf course," he said, "so I don't think the two are wholly inconsistent."

Pie challenge

Last week in this column, I outed top Ehrlich adviser Paul Schurick as a serious gourmand.

Abbruzzese, who's been overheard supersizing fast-food orders while on his cell phone with reporters, let me know he's not about to cede the foodie vote.

"I would like to challenge him to an apple pie-baking contest," Abbruzzese said. "For the holidays one year, I baked multiple apple pies. And I think extra cinnamon is the way to go."

Did he make his own crust?

"I didn't," he said. "Paul and I could work out those details in the contest."

His mother's son

The U.S. men's soccer team has a special fan base at St. Paul's School for Girls.

Lindsay Sheehan, Class of 1981, is married to coach Bob Bradley and is the mother of player Michael Bradley.

"We're certainly rooting for that family here," said Tom Geddes, director of development at St. Paul's, where Sheehan was a "superstar" athlete in her own right before being named first-team All-American in field hockey and lacrosse at the University of Virginia. "Michael Bradley inherited as much athletic talent from his mother as he did from his equally talented father."

Connect the dots

Upset about the City Council's about-face on the bottle tax, Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo rose to address the body and temporarily forgot that the council is no longer a matriarchy, The Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper tells me. "Madam President," he began, speaking into a microphone that turned out to be dead. "If you say 'madam,' it's not going to come on," Council President Jack Young said. … National Republicans had Joe the plumber. Baltimore Dems have Leroy the street sweeper. City Councilman Bobby Curran invoked him as part of a plea to save city workers' jobs by passing the bottle tax, Scharper reports. "He's a real person," Curran said. "He's the hokey guy, the guy that sweeps the streets with the hokey cart in Hamilton."

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