Anne Arundel judge seeks probe of candidate who beat him

Jarashow alleges possible election violations by Asti

November 12, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

The Anne Arundel County judge who lost his post in the Nov. 2 election has alleged that the Republican challenger who beat him might have violated election laws.

In a letter dated Friday and addressed to the state prosecutor, Maryland's attorney general and the Anne Arundel state's attorney, Circuit Judge Ronald H. Jarashow wrote that his allegations "warrant an investigation and possible prosecution of Alison L. Asti." The allegations are based on a flier that he said "likely violates" the law.

"I think that there are election violations that I am witness to, and I felt it was appropriate to bring it to the attention of these people," Jarashow said Friday.

Asti, a Republican and a former executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority during the Ehrlich administration, mounted an aggressive challenge to Democrats Jarashow and Laura S. Kiessling, both of whom had been appointed to judgeships nearly a year ago by Gov. Martin O'Malley. After appointment, circuit judges are required to run in the next election for 15-year terms.

The flier at issue was handed out by Asti supporters on Election Day and closely resembled materials that the Jarashow-Kiessling team used during the campaign, from color scheme to style of type, Jarashow wrote in his letter.

Asti's flier indicated — without Kiessling's permission — that she and Kiessling were a team, he alleged, when in fact Jarashow and Kiessling had the name "Arundel Judges Slate" registered with the Board of Elections. The black-and-yellow flier invited people to vote for two "judges" on the ballot, but Asti is not a judge, Jarashow wrote.

Asti's lawyer, Arthur Frank, said in an e-mail that the flier was "totally compliant" with the law. Neither he nor Asti had seen Jarashow's letter, he said.

However, Frank noted that in the flier, Asti endorsed Kiessling, which is legal, and called Jarashow's allegations "completely frivolous."

"This letter by Ron Jarashow to the State Prosecutor's office is just 'sour grapes' by a sore loser," Frank wrote.

Rhetoric was heated throughout the campaign.

Supporters of the judges said Asti lacked the courtroom experience to be a trial judge, and she responded by pointing to her legal work in private practice and with the stadium authority.

At one point, Asti's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to the judges' campaign based on statements made about her in an advertisement.

Unofficial election returns showed Kiessling with close to 40 percent of the vote, Asti nearly 34 percent and Jarashow trailing with almost 27 percent.

The campaign violation alleged by Jarashow would be a misdemeanor, and a conviction could bar a person from holding elective office for four years, said T. Joseph Touhey, a lawyer who supported the sitting judges and who said he "certainly encouraged" the complaint.

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