Monday, March 01, 2010

Baker Staffers Discuss Response to MPW

In an internal communication that was probably never intended for public scrutiny, staffers on Rushern Baker’s County Executive campaign discussed how to respond to MPW’s series on his campaign finances last week. Here’s what they had to say.

Baker’s website contains a page on which campaign workers exchange messages, advice and event information. Inexplicably, the site was left open for public access, enabling all of Baker’s rivals to keep tabs on what he is doing. On the site, Baker volunteer Christopher Wallas expressed worry about our post on Baker’s acceptance of $166,000 in loans from a paper entity created by his Treasurer:

Christopher Wallas: Article on Brad Seamon, It’s on the Maryland Politics Blog. James here’s your media crisis of today.
That prompted two replies from the “Administrator.”

Administrator: Not a crisis at all.

Administrator: Facts, context, and perspective that makes sense in the kitchen and living rooms and does not exceed the scope or scale of the original attack: that’s how you respond. For example: the only thing that the author has established is that Rushern Baker borrowed and paid back money from life-long friends, some that had not been involved with politics or even had a different political philosophy. So far, have you read anything that is illegal or even unethical? Nobody got anything for their money and the money was paid back. Almost all of it was borrowed in August or September during tough elections. Isn’t that what friends do, help each other? Yesterday he criticized us for taking money from someone whom supported democrats at the time he donated, but later became a more conservative Republican. Take the next logical step: isn’t better for Democrats to have money from Republicans than to either have no money; or, for the Republicans to keep that money and push a Republican agenda? Is he really concerned that a man that has been a delegate to the democratic convention for over 12 years, supported Common Cause and the ACLU and knocked doors for Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama, might be influenced by a friend that is conservative? Should democrat and republican friends not speak to each other? Is he suggesting donations from non-friends is more ethical than taking loans or contributions from life-long friends? Does he plan to review everybody’s finances or just the front runner? Get sharp. This is not that big as far as attacks go. There will be many more. Stay Frosty and respond with a post when you see bullshit.

Where to begin? First, we love to see campaigns openly denouncing incriminating information as “bullsh*t.” Who says there’s no honesty in politics? Second, the Administrator’s defense of taking money from Republicans may be comically unnecessary as sources inside the GOP say they believe Wargotz may have been a Democrat for part of the time he was making loans and contributions to Baker. (We noted his contributions to Democrats in our original post.) But we are sure that Prince George’s County Democratic primary voters will appreciate the sentiment that contributions from Republicans and birthers are welcome. Third, Baker’s $206,000 slate transfer is a warranted trigger for investigation by the Post, the Gazette and this blog. As far as we can tell, no other Prince George’s County Executive candidate belongs to a one-person slate.

Finally, the Administrator’s contention that we have not uncovered evidence of illegal or unethical activity is worth addressing. Baker’s one-candidate slate is clearly not in compliance with state law and must be shut down. And the voters will decide whether the six-digit MStream loans and Baker’s acceptance of over $750,000 from one apartment building owner is ethical or not.

Update: The Post has since reported that the slate has three members. When your author contacted the State Board of Elections to verify this, they did not respond to our request.