- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2012

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said last week that he will return $7,000 in campaign donations from an adviser recently convicted of tax evasion.

Well, he didn’t exactly say he’ll return the money. He might donate it to charity instead. Or not.

While meeting with reporters, Mr. O'Malley tripped over a question into whether he plans to follow the lead of other Democrats who are giving back donations from Richard Stewart, a member of the governor’s redistricting advisory panel who pleaded guilty last month to failing to pay nearly $4 million in taxes.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown announced earlier in the week that he would give more than $5,000 in past donations back to Stewart, while Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said he would donate $1,500 he received to charity. The governor’s response?

“We’ll do the same thing,” he said, leaving reporters a bit puzzled.

When asked to clarify, Mr. O'Malley thought it over a bit before acknowledging he hadn’t decided whether to return the money or give it away. Then, he did what any true politician would do: He cracked a joke and changed the subject.

“What do you all want [me] to do?” he asked reporters, drawing laughs as he deftly took the next question.

Well played, Mr. Governor.

On the attack

Less than two weeks after he vowed to “irradiate” his federal tax liabilities, D.C. legend Marion Barry fired off another head-scratching email against a political opponent who just happened to be his former spokeswoman.

Mr. Barry, a former four-time mayor and now Ward 8 Democrat on the D.C. Council, issued a statement Wednesday on his office letterhead with a subject line that proclaims: “Barry Finds Natalie Williams Calvary Church Efforts Off-Point and Misguided.”

Mr. Barry is all but assured of protecting his council seat against Ms. Williams and six other candidates in the April 3 Democratic primary. Nonetheless, he felt the need to refer to a Williams-led protest of a women’s shelter as “Johnny-come-lately efforts” that indicate her “insensitivity and knowledge about the shelter.”

The letter drew a sharp rebuke from council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, who warned Mr. Barry against using council resources for campaign squabbles.

At least Mr. Barry was not fighting his opponents in the same manner he said he plans to deal with his taxes, which according to Webster’s dictionary involves rays of sunlight or high levels of heat.

Jury duty

Even the most red-blooded, flag-waving Americans groan when they see that ever-dreaded envelope with those two little words somewhere on the inside: Jury duty.

Apparently not U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, however.

Along with 32 others, the Virginia Democrat recently reported to the Fairfax County Courthouse eagerly awaiting his opportunity to serve on a jury.

“I’ve always wanted to serve on a jury,” he said. “I firmly believe it is every citizen’s duty to serve. And I am no exception.”

But the momentous opportunity will have to wait. He managed to catch an orientation film on the role of a juror but ultimately was not chosen to sit and headed back to Washington, saying he hoped to get another opportunity in the future.

Guess most things would beat a day on Capitol Hill at this point.

David Hill, Tom Howell Jr.and David Sherfinski contributed to this report