Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said Thursday he “probably should have done more” to determine whether alcohol was present at a teen house party he briefly stopped by this summer, a retreat from his previously defiant stance that he had no “moral authority” to intervene.
The admission came during a news conference held to address a report in the Baltimore Sun that the gubernatorial candidate was present at the party in June at a beach house in South Bethany, Del.
Mr. Gansler said he stopped in to tell his son what time they were leaving in the morning. A photo shows the Democrat at the party, and several teens who attended told The Sun that the gathering involved underaged drinking.
“Maybe I should have been more observant,” Mr. Gansler said Thursday. “In this case, I could have done something differently.”
Mr. Gansler said the incident happened at the height of the high school graduation season. The home had been rented by a group of parents, including Mr. Gansler, as a place for their recent high school graduates to stay for the week, according to The Sun. A list of house rules included a prohibition on “hard liquor” and requirements that chaperones be present.
Mr. Gansler said his name was not on the rental agreement for the house nor was he one of the adult chaperones assigned to the home.
“I wasn’t there as a police officer,” Mr. Gansler said. “I was there to talk to my child.”
In Delaware, the legal drinking age is 21, although the law has exceptions that allow those underage to drink in a private home with parental consent.
Mr. Gansler, who previously won Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Hero award and the Victims’ Rights Foundation Champion of Children award, originally told The Sun he did not have the moral authority over other people’s children to intervene if he had observed widespread drinking.
But he backed off those comments during the Thursday news conference, saying there was no question he has a moral responsibility over other people’s children.
“If I’d seen anything that looked dangerous, risky, or someone in a bad situation I would have done something about it,” he said.
Mr. Gansler last year recorded a public service announcement for the Century Council, a Virginia-based nonprofit sponsored by liquor companies that campaigns against drunken driving and underage drinking.
Council CEO Ralph Blackman told The Associated Press he expects the spot will be pulled off the organization’s YouTube channel.
“We talk a lot about the mixed messages that parents sometimes send to kids. It’s a bit of a mixed message for us,” he said.
The scrutiny continues what has been a bumpy campaign thus far for Mr. Gansler ahead of the June Democratic primary.