Updated: You've got mail
*** See below for Tuesday update. ***
A campaign solicitation from the Democratic governor has landed in the e-mail accounts of at least a couple of state employees, prompting Republicans to wonder whether it's part of a larger pattern.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign says it is scrubbing its mass e-mail list to remove any state addresses. The Maryland Republican Party on Monday accused O'Malley of "harassing" state workers for campaign contributions. Reporters were provided a single e-mail -- an O'Malley blast sent April 30 to "Martin." The e-mail address is blacked out except for the ".state.md.us" ending.
Ryan Mahoney, the state GOP political director, said in an e-mail that there have been "a few complaints about this," all from people who claim not to have signed up for O’Malley e-mails.
In early April, a Republican lawmaker showed this reporter copies of two e-mails. In each case, the O'Malley campaign had asked a state employee for a donation.
For context, there are 60,000 state employees, not counting court or legislative employees. Rick Abbruzzese, O'Malley's campaign spokesman, explained in an e-mail how people end up on O'Malley's campaign e-mail blast list. "In most cases, individuals are added after signing up to receive updates or more information about certain issues," Abbruzzese said. "We are in the process looking through list to ensure that this does not happen again." Each e-mail from the O'Malley campaign includes a link to unsubscribe.
Still, Maryland Republicans are questioning whether O'Malley is padding his mass e-mail list. In the Monday press release, Republican Chairwoman Audrey Scott calls any O'Malley e-mails to state employees "inappropriate" and said it "border(s) on workforce intimidation."
One theory of what happened: State workers angry about something -- perhaps furlough days -- e-mailed complaints to the governor's campaign, thereby ending up on his blast list.
*** Tuesday update ***
Abbruzzese reports: "After a thorough review of the campaign's database, we located some addresses with a md.us extension. Those email addresses have been removed from the campaign's email list." He described the number of md.us emails as "just a handful, compared to tens of thousands of emails in the database." He said it appears people from those accounts had signed up to receive updates in the past.
Mahoney has not responded to my request for an exact number of complaints the party has received.
From Mahoney: "We received complaints or forwarded emails from a half dozen State employees with the courage to come forward. In all cases we are told they are unsolicited and that they had not signed up for O’Malley emails. In any case the list should have been screened for State workers, who serve at the pleasure of the governor, before any solicitation for funds was sent." Mahoney adds that the complaints were brought to his attention last week.