The Washington Times - September 28, 2010, 06:06PM
The Republican candidate for Maryland governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., is accusing the administration of Democratic incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley of interfering with the state Labor Department for political gain.
Mr. Ehrlich, who lost the governorship to Mr. O’Malley in 2006, released documents Monday that show agency employees removed a disappointing jobs report from their website this summer because of pressure “from the top,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
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The documents, including e-mails obtained through a request for public information, show agency employees scrambled to remove the internal report about unimpressive job growth in July while Mr. O’Malley was trying to tout a more upbeat assessment, the paper said.
Mr. Ehrlich has made unemployment and Maryland appearing to be less business friendly over the past four years major points in his tight race to unseat Mr. O’Malley.
The O’Malley campaign has responded by saying Maryland employers added 33,000 jobs from January to August — the best first eight months of a year since 2000, according to the newspaper.
However, the July and August reports showed the state losing jobs, reversing a trend Mr. O’Malley had been promoting on the campaign trail.
The report was posted in Aug. 20, then removed within hours. Alexander M. Sanchez, who runs the agency, said the report was taken down because it was an internal document never intended to be made public.
A top agency staffer said the top-down pressure was from Mr. Sanchez, not the governor or his top staffers.
However, the Sun said it has e-mails showing the governor’s staff took “significant interest in making sure a replacement report was posted online.” For example, when the agency staff had difficulty posting the corrected document one evening because a key staffer was out, an O’Malley spokesman wrote: “Drive to her house if you have to. Thiis [sic] is way overdue.”
Mr. O’Malley reportedly said he did order the report removed.
The news about the report was followed Tuesday by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, endorsing Mr. Ehrlich.
“I am honored to have Gov. Romney’s endorsement,” Mr. Ehrlich said in response. “As an accomplished executive in both the private and public sectors, he understands that the path to economic recovery in Maryland and America begins with empowering entrepreneurs, lowering the tax burden on hardworking families, and reining in government spending. I look forward to applying these principles to state government after November’s election.”