November 24, 2010

ROBOCALLS: Ehrlich paid Henson $14,000 before election; $111,150 total

The campaign of former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) reported paying $14,000 in the final days of the race to the political consultant who has taken responsibility for ordering anonymous election-night robocalls suggesting Democrats "relax" and stay home. The payments, included in a finance report made public Tuesday, bring the total Ehrlich spent on the services of Julius Henson to $111,150 this year. Payments were made to two firms run by Henson, Universal Elections and Politics Today. The two most recent payments are dated Oct. 21 and Oct. 29 to Universal Elections.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) has filed a civil complaint in federal court, alleging the more than 112,000 calls -- placed while the polls were still open on Nov. 2 -- were intended to suppress voter turnout and violated federal law. The Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor and the U.S. Justice Department have also made inquiries regarding the episode. Henson, who usually works for Democrats in Baltimore and Prince George's County, has said the calls were "counterintuitive" and meant to inspire voters inclined to vote to Ehrlich to go to the polls. While appearing in the studios of WBAL radio on Saturday as a guest on his wife's radio show, Ehrlich declined comment on the robocalls. He previously said Henson was hired to help with outreach in the African-American community. SOURCEWashington Post

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