Jury deliberating fate of political consultant Henson

'Robocall' made for Ehrlich campaign at center of election fraud case

May 10, 2012|By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

After about eight hours of deliberations Thursday, the Baltimore Circuit Court jury considering the fate of political consultant Julius Henson went home for a second day without reaching a verdict.

Henson, 63, of East Baltimore, faces charges of election fraud, conspiracy and failure to include a campaign authority line on an automated call he orchestrated on Election Day 2010. Prosecutors say Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign used the call in an attempt to suppress black votes. A transcript and recording of the call were primary evidence in the case.

Henson said he wrote the text for the "robocall" in three minutes on a McDonald's napkin and that Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick approved its contents but told him to leave off a campaign authority line, which is required by law to ensure transparency.

The automated call suggested that registered Democrats in Baltimore and Prince George's County should "relax" and stay home. It implied that Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, had already won his race against Ehrlich, even though the polls were still open.

"Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back," the call stated in part.

Henson has said the call was meant to encourage black voters to head to the polls through reverse psychology. His attorney, Edward Smith Jr., called prosecutors' case a "bunch of bull-honky" during closing arguments.

The Ehrlich campaign paid Henson $16,000 a month — $112,000 total — and promised a bonus of $30,000 should Ehrlich win.

Schurick was convicted on similar charges in December. The jury deliberated less than five hours before returning a guilty verdict on four counts, including election fraud. He was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, 500 hours of community service and four years of probation.



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