September 29, 2010

Ehrlich, GOP supporters accuse O'Malley of cover-up in agency e-mails

Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and his supporters tried on Tuesday to use a batch of government e-mails released this week to portray his rival, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), as more concerned with politics than job creation. Ehrlich's campaign dropped a second round of documents that show O'Malley's administration scrambling to cope with the fallout from an economic report that was inadvertently posted last month on a state Web site. The e-mails, which The Post obtained and authenticated, do not provide much new information, but offer a rare look at the inner workings of O'Malley's administration, including candid exchanges from top aides who were clearly concerned about public perception and how the internal report ended up in the hands of Ehrlich's campaign.

The report, which described the state's economy as having "stalled" during July, was posted Aug. 20 and taken down a few hours later. The message was at odds with the positive news O'Malley's administration intended to emphasize. Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Alexander M. Sanchez has said that the report was mistakenly posted and that he ordered it pulled from the site.

Republican Party Chairman Audrey E. Scott called Tuesday for Sanchez to resign. In a letter to O'Malley, Scott said the e-mails show that the "culture of the department encourages employees to deceive the taxpayers for political gain."

O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said the governor stands by Sanchez, and that the administration is "focused on job creation, and that's why Maryland continues to create jobs at more than twice the rate of the rest of the nation." In the hours after the administration realized the mistake, the e-mails show the back-and-forth between labor department officials and the governor's office as they worked late on a Friday night to ensure that the errant report was pulled from the site and that the proper one was posted in its place. SOURCE: Washington Post

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