As weeks go in Maryland politics, these last few have been pretty bad for Attorney General Doug Gansler. He is facing significant and troublesome accusations of ethical lapses and abuse of privilege while in office as attorney general.
If there’s a time for him to bow out of the race for Maryland governor, it’s now.
No sooner had Gansler stuck his head up over the trench wall to declare his run for governor than allegations began that he’d order his security detail of Maryland troopers to run red lights, speed, put on sirens and lights, even took the wheel himself when troopers demurred. In response, the attorney general called the commander documenting the charges a “henchman” working for his opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.
This week, Gansler acknowledged he’d paid $400 out of his own pocket for a ticket caught by a D.C. speed camera of his state. Maryland State police say Gansler was behind the wheel. Gansler claims it was a trooper.
That’s not the only digital photo he’s having trouble with.
Last week, Gansler was caught in a picture taken this summer at a Delaware beach house at a party with underage drinkers.
“Do I have any moral authority over other people’s children at beach week in another state?” Gansler told The Baltimore Sun. "I say no.”
Wrong answer. As a statewide leader and attorney general who has spoken out publicly against underage drinking, Gansler does have a moral obligation to uphold the law. It doesn’t matter what state he’s in. He doesn’t get to pick and choose when to wear the parent hat and when to wear the crown of public office.
There are questions too about dirty politics that need to be raised once the political circus around Gansler has died down. We suspect the answers will be disturbing.
Clearly someone has been sitting on this information, waiting patiently to release it when it would prove most damaging to a nascent campaign. Why didn’t we learn about the accusations from the state police when they were made? The memo, charging the problem had existed for five years, was filed in December 2011 — nearly two years ago.
The beach party where Gansler was pictured was June 13. Four months ago. Three months before Gansler launched his campaign. He should have been made to answer for these events when they happened, not just because of a seedy attempt to tank his run at governor.
That aside, enough issues have been raised that Gansler’s campaign is effectively neutered. The picture at the beach house was embarrassing enough — for Maryland, never mind the attorney general — that we hope Gansler won’t drag this out. That would be messy; it would cloud the political campaign, make it harder to address the important issues, and lead to more embarrassment for the state.
Time to end it cleanly.