Robocalls civil and criminal cases to proceed
A federal judge ruled today that a civil complaint about allegedly fraudulent robocalls made on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign may proceed at the same time as state criminal cases.
Political operative Julius Henson, a consultant to the Republican former governor, ordered a batch of Election Day robocalls that urged Democratic voters in Baltimore and Prince George's County to "relax" and stay home because Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and President Barack Obama "have already been successful." In fact, the polls were still open.
Henson and Rhonda Russell, an employee at his Universal Elections company, are defendants in a federal civil case brought late last year by Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler. The defendants' attorney, Edward Smith Jr., had sought to stay the civil proceedings because Henson also is a defendant in a new criminal case.
Last month, State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt secured grand jury indictments against Henson and top Ehrlich aide Paul Schurick. An arraignment is scheduled for July 18.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake today denied the defense motion to stay the civil case. "Other than unfounded attacks on the motives of the Attorney General, the defendants have not explained why a blanket stay of this action is warranted by the existence of a partially parallel criminal indictment brought by the State Prosecutor," she wrote.