- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Maryland State Police used taxpayer funds to place fliers that promoted a rally for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in troopers' mailboxes at barracks, said a state troopers union and the campaign of her Republican rival, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
"It is absolutely a violation. The fliers were placed using the interdepartmental police mail system, and troopers were used to carry them," said Detective Sgt. William O. Jones, a member of the executive board of the Maryland Troopers Association.
David Hammel, the association's president, said he has received several dozen phone calls from troopers who said they had received the fliers for a rally tomorrow being organized by troopers supporting Mrs. Townsend. He said it also appears that an internal personnel database was used to generate address labels for the fliers.
The Ehrlich campaign yesterday criticized how the fliers were distributed.
"Promoting a political event using taxpayer resources is clearly inappropriate," Mr. Ehrlich said in a statement.
State police officials did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.
The Townsend campaign said it had nothing to do with the distribution of fliers.
Peter Hamm, campaign manager for Mrs. Townsend, said the charges come from a group "angered by the fact that some troopers were supporting" the Democratic candidate.
He said several state troopers were angered by statements Mr. Ehrlich made, during a debate last month, about the troopers not supporting Mrs. Townsend. As lieutenant governor, Mrs. Townsend has oversight of the state police.
"Troopers out there are way over the top because they think this is an inappropriate comment," Mr. Hamm said.
Yesterday, a member of the union's executive board said the union was seeking an attorney's opinion on whether the state police and the Townsend campaign violated any laws by using state resources for distributing fliers for the "Troopers for Townsend" rally tomorrow.
"We believe there were some local as well as federal law violations," Mr. Jones said.
Mr. Hammel said troopers' interdepartmental mailboxes are usually used to receive internal letters and memos and had never been used for a purpose "as political as this."
He said that when the union was seeking responses from members on endorsements for the gubernatorial elections, "we sent all our correspondence through U.S. mail."
The union, which has 2,000 members, switched loyalties this year to endorse Mr. Ehrlich. During the last gubernatorial election, the union endorsed the Democratic incumbent, Parris N. Glendening.
Two other statewide groups, the State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance and the state Fraternal Order of Police, have endorsed Mrs. Townsend.


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