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October 1, 2010

New Ehrlich attack ad focuses on jobs report "fiasco"



The war on credibility continued Friday with former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich airing a new attack ad in the Baltimore area Friday that alleges Gov. Martin O'Malley ordered his labor department to falsify a downbeat jobs report.

It's not a huge surprise that the issue would find its way on TV. Ehrlich on Monday released a stack of embarrassing emails recording how stressed-out staffers struggled to do damage control after a negative jobs report went up briefly on the state's website.

Those emails show tortured efforts at spin in the agency, but do not directly implicate O'Malley or anyone in the governor's office. Ehrlich, however, clearly hopes to use the issue to support a narrative his campaign is trying to establish: O'Malley can't be trusted to steer the state's economy.

Rick Abbruzzese, O'Malley's deputy campaign manager, noted that so far this year Maryland employers have added 33,000 jobs. He called the ad "desperate" and accused Ehrlich of "lashing out" because "he knows his 24-year political career is slipping away."

For those who missed the news story here's a quick synopsis: The state's labor department in August put out a report saying that Maryland's economy "stalled" in July. A sharp-eyed GOP staffer noticed that it was at odds with O'Malley's economic message and blasted out an email to supporters.

Shortly after, labor department employees pulled down the report, deleted the negative sounding language, and re-posted it. The agency head, Alexander Sanchez, explained the incident by saying that the initial jobs report was an unfinished draft never intended to be posted. The kicker is that the downbeat assessment proved accurate -- the July jobs numbers were revised from a net gain to a net loss.

Ehrlich, via a public information act request, obtained the emails that went back and forth between state staffers who were dealing with the dueling reports. Emails include such gems as Sanchez telling a staffer: "Call mw (sic) as soon as you know who posted this outrageous info" and agency communications director Bernie Kohn writing "Whatever we can do to make this disappear, we need to do it. That is coming straight from the top."

Ehrlich, in his ad, picks up on that last email and tries to pin job-gate directly on O'Malley. An announcer says: "O’Malley attempts a cover-up, falsifying the jobs report to help his campaign."

But there's a problem: The released emails don't support the notion that O'Malley was personally aware of the negative report or had anything to do with the decision to remove it from the state website. Kohn, a former Baltimore Sun editor, said in an interview that his orders came from Sanchez, not O'Malley. O'Malley was also questioned this week by reporters and repeatedly denied that he was aware of the negative report.

Announcer-After months of Martin O’Malley telling us that Maryland is moving forward.

Martin O’Malley- Moving Maryland forward

Announcer-This jobs reports tells the truth

Announcer-Maryland’s economy stalled

Announcer 2-We face an uphill struggle in trying to regain the jobs lost

Announcer-O’Malley attempts a cover-up, falsifying the jobs report to help his campaign

Announcer 2-Whatever we can do to make it disappear, we need to do it

Announcer 2-That’s coming straight from the top

Announcer-Martin O’Malley: First he makes stuff up. When caught, he covers stuff up

Announcer-We need a governor who tells the truth

Posted by Annie Linskey at 5:19 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Political ads


Sounds to me like a case of political appointees trying to make the boss look good. Could O'Malley have had something to do with it? Yes, that's possible, but since he and the agency folks involved have all denied it, Ehrlich needs to provide some proof that O'Malley was the one who ordered the report removed. Until then, it's just unsubstantiated allegations. But isn't that what most campaign commercials consist of these days?

Sad bitter egotistic loser Bob Ehrlich will hopefully leave the state when he loses again.

The Sun reports that O'Malley was unaware, but ultimately the buck stops with him. He has said he stands by Secretary Sanchez and the decisions that followed. Thereby O'Malley tacitly supports the politicization of a major state jobs report.

Put differently, if O'Malley said he supported Sen. Currie remaining a Senator even after conviction then wouldn't we question O'Malley's judgment? The facts are in plain view here.

The final test is to ask what would happen had this been Bob Ehrlich. Clearly O'Malley would not only have launched an advertisement, but he most likely would have filed some form of lawsuit.

Bottom line: O'Malley cares more about politics than about the governance of the state and Marylanders have a choice in Novemeber to make.

Dear College Son & Daughter,

Mom and I are writing to let you know that if you vote for any Democrat in the upcoming election you will be destroying our retirement and your children's future. If I learn that you voted for a Democrat you will need to begin funding 100% of your college expenses. You will probably need to find a job, but will be unlikely to find one presently. If you end up having to drop out of school you should know that you will no longer be welcome in our home.

I hear appliance boxes work well for housing. We can drop your mattress off to your box location along with some nice "Will Work For Food" signs we've made. I would suggest you settle somewhere warm to eliminate the need for the treatment of frostbite.

You are free to choose your candidate, but we will not support any more poor decisions you make.

Love... Mom & Dad

Left out of this piece is the fact that O'Malley's press office was closely tracking the situation and constantly in touch with DLLR comm director Kohn. In fact, O'Malley's press secretary Shaun Adamec told Kohn to drive to DLLR's webmaster's home to make sure the new sanitized report was posted. See the email at

Dear Joe Steffen, We need you Ken (Kendel Ehrlich)

We remember Bob Ehrlich.

Dear Mom & Dad,

We have no plans to attend college -at least, any Maryland state college where tuition increased as high 40% on Bowlcut-Bob's watch.

We also find it difficult to believe that we can simutaneously destroy both your retirement and our future, since as student debtors, we are burdened with the additional out-of-pocket college costs -not you.

Therefore, we encourage you to take what little of your 401K you have left as a result of the last 8 years of regressive fiscal policies and go hunker down in the old fallout shelter to await the aftermath. Might want to pack a copy of the Overton Window or the Turner Diaries to pass the time.

Unlike the last Japanese soldier on a nameless South Pacific rock, we will not be sending out search parties to bring you back.

All the best,

Your Son and Daughter.

5 years later...

Dear Mom and Dad,

I think I am going to be dropping out of school because I am being forced to give birth to my rapist's child. The teabaggers that have been elected in recent years have made all abortion illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, and the only Supreme Court justices that they allowed to be confirmed have upheld the law. I might be able to continue my studies if I find some back-alley guy with a coat hanger.

Wish me luck!

Your Daughter

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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