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December 17, 2010

Investigators raid home of Ehrlich robocaller

Investigators for the state prosecutor on Friday raided the home and office of Julius Henson, the political operative who ordered the controversial Election Day robocalls for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Emmet C. Davitt, Maryland’s new state prosecutor, declined to comment on the raid. Neither Henson nor his lawyer could be reached for comment Friday.

WBAL-TV, which broke the news of the morning raid, aired footage showing investigators carrying boxes away from Henson's home from an early morning raid.

Henson, a Democratic operative who was working this year for the Republican Ehrlich, ordered more than 112,000 robocalls before the polls closed on Election Day last month.

The calls focused on Democratic precincts in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. The recorded message featured a female voice suggesting that Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley had already won the election and encouraging supporters to stay home.

The woman told voters to “relax” because “Governor O'Malley and President Obama have been successful.… Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight.”

Nobody answered the door Friday at Henson’s home on Decker Street. There was also nobody answering Friday afternoon at his office on North Charles Street.

Henson has acknowledged orchestrating the calls. He told The Baltimore Sun last month that the message was meant to encourage turnout.

“We believe the call was made for voters in Baltimore City who were not going to go to the polls, to go to the polls and vote,” Henson said in early November. “It never said, ‘Don't vote.’ ”

Henson said Ehrlich “probably” did not know about the calls. Ehrlich’s campaign paid Henson $111,000 for “community outreach.”

Ehrlich told the Annapolis Capital last week that the calls were “done outside of my purview.” When news of the calls broke on Election Night, an Ehrlich spokesman called them “absolutely irresponsible.”

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has filed a civil lawsuit against Henson, alleging voter intimidation and vote suppression.

Gansler’s complaint alleges that Henson and an employee violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by because the phone message did not include any identifying information. Gansler is seeking $500 for each violation, which would add up to a fine of more than $56 million.

Henson started his career promoting Democrats, and most of his income over the last four years has come from left-leaning candidates. In the last election cycle, his firms Universal Elections and Politics Today netted about $763,000.

Clients included a slate led by Baltimore Democratic Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, which paid him $37,000. Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young paid Henson $30,000 this year for consulting services. Young has since cut ties with the consultant.

Del. Gerron Levi, a Prince George's County Democrat, paid him $75,000 for help in her race for county executive. She did not win.

Comments

Voter intimidation? I love it. So when the O'Malley administration threatened a tax increase if the people didn't vote for slots, this was not intimidation?

What was on the minds of senior Ehrlich campaign staff when that guy was hired in the first place? Henson's reputation is well known. Both sides have their dirty trick operatives but this one is too visible and the stupidity of bringing him in to the campaign is now even more apparent. UGH......

Ehrlich and Co. knew exactly what they were getting when they hired JH. They wanted to continue their streak of voter intimidation and misleading voters that occurred in both 2002 and 2006. I only hope the JH takes Booby E. and Co. down with him at trial.

@ Bar -- certainly no different than the tax increase Ehrlich threatened would happen if we didn't vote for him. Like it or not, that is part of the pre-election day political campaign process and has no relation to encouraging or discouraging one to exercise his or her right to franchise on election day itself.

Why isn't Erlich being prosecuted or investigated? Is it because He has the right Skin texture, so he gets away unscathed? NOT UNDER MY WATCH!

Woodie says "They wanted to continue their streak of voter intimidation and misleading voters that occurred in both 2002 and 2006."


You don;t think much of the easily duped and manipulated democrat voters do you?
If your allegations are true, these voters really are stupid and ignorant and perhaps they should not be voting anyway!

"the right Skin texture"

Texture? Thats a new on on me.

“Done outside of my purview” - right! Can he possibly believe that the majority of MD residents would think that he paid Hensen over $11k and doesn't know what he did to earn it?

If true, then he's just completely incompetent versus being completely dishonest *OR* he just thinks the voters are completely stupid!

And I must agree with Greg - why is this guy not being investigated which would certainly lead to prosecution -

Aren't they all scum? Just pure scum?
O'Murder ...Ur....lich....makes me want to vomit that's why I spell his name that way.

O'Murder just wants to further his career. Can we simply oust them all and elect someone unknown and untarnished? Is that humanly possible.

O'Murder sucks and clearly the choices weren't any better so we get stuck with more lying dumbocrats and repuklicans.
We deserve better people. When are we going to demand it?!!!! WHEN?????????????

You do realize this giys calls hurt Erlich right? Why should Erlich be investigate if this was a crime committed against him??? WTH

This guys dirty tactics were well known to everyone, including Ehrlich. His claim that he didn't know anything about it is beyond belief. He should be investigated for criminal violations.

It was definitely a dirty tactic.

BUT...is the State Prosecutor being biased in only chasing after this example?

The Democratic Party hosted free food, drink and entertainment events outside of early voting centers during early voting. The first time they did this the Board of Elections advised them it was illegal. They did it again and received no punishment and the media was absolutely silent.

If you're going to look into electoral fraud then you have to cross the whole gambit instead of turning it into a partisan witchhunt.

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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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