Monday, July 28, 2008

How Low Can Bob Ehrlich Go?

In an astounding interview on WBAL last Wednesday, former Governor Bob Ehrlich blamed former Maryland Attorney General Joe Curran for the state police spying scandal and went on to tell state legislators not to “micro-manage” the police!

Following are excerpts from an interview of Governor Ehrlich by conservative talk show host Bruce Elliott on 7/23/08:

On this issue, somebody authorized 288 hours of spying on peace and anti-death penalty groups. I personally would like to know who and why. The implication from Martin O’Malley yesterday was somehow it’s the responsibility of the former administration. Thus, he is, it seems to me, kind of implying that a piece of paper crossed your desk and you signed off on this.

Yeah, which of course is silly. There’s not a whole lot to add to what I guess Superintendent Hutchins has already told the press. Police agencies are paid to protect us, Bruce. They make discretionary decisions regarding their operations. Governors do not get involved in those operations quite obviously. There are however Assistant Attorney Generals that they report to. Assistant Attorney Generals are assigned to every agency in state government. And so if Martin O’Malley has an issue with regard to the Attorney General’s actions during our administration, he should probably talk to his father-in-law [former Attorney General Curran].
A spokeswoman for current Attorney General Doug Gansler immediately denied that the state police asked the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on the investigation. Here is more from the former Governor:

OK Bob, do you have a problem with this? Knowing what you know now.

I don’t know a whole lot. I know this Bruce – here’s what I do know – that if there would be a danger to the public or a public official or something or some element occurred within these groups, the Martin O’Malleys of the world, talk radio folks of the world would be the first to ask me why weren’t the state police or the agency involved doing their job? So it’s a very interesting issue, obviously. I have no problem with the oversight. As I’ve said, that’s what Assistant Attorney Generals do. But if you really want to get into the state legislature micro-managing the state police agency, I’ve got a big problem with it...
But the former Governor is not done yet.

OK now, Jim Brochin, a Senator you know from Baltimore County, Democrat, said the whole thing is disturbing. He is somewhat comforted by assurances made by [current Superintendent of State Police] Sheridan and O’Malley and is not considering legislation. Now that does raise an interesting question, Governor. The indications from Governor O’Malley are, well, this just took place under the previous administration and somehow stopped as if on cue when you left Government House.

It would be interesting to ask, again I’m not [unintelligible] but, what similar operations were performed by Baltimore City Police during his tenure as Mayor. But again the issue here is, Bruce, the press is doing its job, I think the Attorney Generals really need to be talked to and we need to find out exactly what they said, what interaction there was between the state police in this case and the Attorney General assigned to that agency. But the last thing I want is the Brochins or the [Senator Brian] Froshes of the world getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the state police agencies or defining probable cause. I mean, these are not exactly people I want making those decisions. I’d rather have the people we pay to make those decisions make those decisions.

Yeah, but somebody has to sign off on it, gov. I mean, somebody has to say, yes, this is a good thing. And if it was Curran who signed off on it or somebody in his office, I think that the public would like to know who did, and why, and who authorized the continuation of this kind of surveillance…

Well, where do you draw the line? Bruce, my main question, and I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but where do you draw that line on a day-to-day basis?

Look, I think it’s perfectly justifiable to say that if you might have a problem here, yeah, you better take a look at these groups. But somewhere within the first, you know like, hundred hours, in other words, the first two-and-a-half solid weeks of surveillance, assuming this is a forty-hour work week, that somebody would say, “You know what? These people are creampuffs…”

Well, I think it’s an appropriate thing for the last three, four, five, whatever, State Superintendents of Police and the Attorney Generals assigned to the police to give you, provide the parameters. But again, I’d be very careful about going beyond that, because I don’t want the Brian Froshes of the world telling the state police what they can and cannot do on a daily basis.
Blair Lee has criticized this blog in his Gazette column this week:

And, of course, the liberal bloggers went into lynch mob mode. Maryland Politics Watch launched a four-part series, ‘‘Inside Ehrlich’s Secret Police” and went completely over the top with this: ‘‘If you want to surrender your liberties to tyrannical government, vote for Bob Ehrlich in 2010.”
While we appreciate Mr. Lee’s regular reading of our blog, we would like to point out that we ran a five-part series, not four. Let no one claim that we devote too little attention to civil liberties here! And we will concede that at the time we made the statement he cites, it may have been premature. But we now know the following about Governor Ehrlich’s views from both his statements in the Sun and the above interview on WBAL:

1. He declines to say that there was anything wrong with the investigation.
2. He blames the former Attorney General for the spying without a shred of evidence to back up his view.
3. He believes that the state police should not be monitored by either the Governor or the legislature. In other words, the state police should be accountable only to themselves.

So now I will say it again:
If you want to surrender your liberties to tyrannical government, vote for Bob Ehrlich in 2010.