Grand jury to hear case on robocalls for Ehrlich

At least one person subpoenaed to testify on deceptive Election Day calls

May 13, 2011|By Laura Vozzella and Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun

The state prosecutor has empanelled a grand jury to hear testimony about deceptive Election Day robocalls made on behalf of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The grand jury will meet this month in Baltimore to hear testimony from at least one person who was subpoenaed Friday but asked not to be identified. It was unclear whether the grand jury has already met.

The subpoena and the existence of the grand jury are the first developments to come to light in the case since December, when investigators for the state prosecutor raided the home and office of political operative Julius Henson.

The automated calls urged voters to "relax" and stay home from the polls because Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley had already won the election. In fact, the polls were still open and no votes had been tallied.

Henson, who received $111,000 from the Ehrlich campaign for "community outreach," has acknowledged orchestrating the calls to more than 112,000 homes in Democratic precincts in Baltimore and Prince George's County. But he said the message was meant to encourage turnout of Ehrlich supporters.

It is not clear whether Ehrlich, a Republican, or any of his top aides has been asked to testify before the grand jury.

Longtime Ehrlich aide Greg Massoni declined to comment Friday.

"Because it's under litigation and because [information about the subpoenas] is not supposed to come out, we're not going to comment," Massoni said.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt also declined to comment on any subpoenas. He would neither confirm nor deny that the robocall investigation was continuing, in accordance with his office's policies.

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