Republicans send robocall letter to state prosecutor

Washington County Republican Central Committee say they 'welcome and solicit' an investigation

December 17, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS |

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The Washington County Republican Central Committee has sent a letter to the Office of the State Prosecutor saying its members "welcome and solicit" an investigation into an election robocall that was falsely attributed to the committee.

"If in your judgment the incident warrants investigation, we welcome that" the letter said, according to a copy provided to The Herald-Mail. "And if you find the circumstances to involve criminal mischief beyond simply commonplace errors of miscommunication and misunderstanding, we will of course support your efforts to hold people accountable to the law, be they of our Party or another Party."

Committee Chairman Randy Buchman said the members voted at their Dec. 9 meeting to send the letter, due, in part, to a public outcry that the Republican Central Committee was not pursuing the matter aggressively enough.

"I guess there's a feeling that we're trying to hide something or protect our own or something like that," Buchman said Friday. "We're interested in letting everything fall where it may."

The automated call, which attacked then-county commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, included an authority line saying it was paid for by the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

Aleshire, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid last month.

"The call caught our Committee by total surprise," the letter said. "We did not ever discuss this or vote upon such, and have not been billed nor have we paid the Richmond company (Conquest Communications) for the call."

In Maryland, misuse of an authority line on an election advertisement is a misdemeanor.

Elizabeth Paul, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee, asked the Maryland Attorney General's Office to investigate the robocall. The attorney general's office referred the matter to the state prosecutor's office.

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough has said his office neither confirms nor denies whether it is investigating a complaint unless the office recommends prosecution, meaning there may never be a public resolution to the robocall case if there is no prosecution.

The committee's letter said that while members have heard second- and third-hand accounts of the chain of events and people involved in the call, the committee has not spoken publicly of any names or circumstances because none of the members has first-hand knowledge of them.

"We have no desire to falsely implicate or erroneously report upon these matters and hence exacerbate an already unfortunate incident by the passing on of hearsay," the letter said.

The committee remains "ready to fully cooperate" with the state prosecutor's office, the letter said. That includes sharing what they have heard about the call's origins, if asked by investigators, Buchman said.

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