- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 16, 2004

The executive director of the Maryland Republican Party will step down at the end of the month.

Eric M. Sutton will join MH Media, a political consulting firm in the District.

“I have enjoyed working in Maryland in this historic era for the Republican Party under the new leadership” of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, Mr. Sutton said.

MH Media, a national political consulting and strategic communications firm, was founded by Republican media consultant Mike Hudome. Past clients of Mr. Hudome’s include Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, former Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman John M. Kane described Mr. Sutton as a “tremendous asset and trusted adviser.”

Mr. Sutton joined the state party after serving as executive director of the Delaware Republican Party.

No replacement has been named.

• What’s the word?

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is standing firm on his sentiments about multiculturalism.

During a recent radio interview, the Republican governor said he used poor word choice in assailing the idea of multiculturalism as “crap” or “bunk,” adding that he meant to express disdain for political correctness.

“Bunk is a benign term,” he said during an interview on WMAL-AM (Radio 630) on Thursday. “Maybe ‘crap’ should not have been used.”

Mr. Ehrlich has been criticized for his comments during a Baltimore radio show, in which he blamed academics for perpetuating separation over assimilation.

“I do believe that part of my political appeal over the years has been my willingness to engage in serious issues and complex issues,” he said. “I believe political correctness is a very dangerous movement in American politics.”

• Cost-conscious

Fewer than half of the 100 members of Virginia’s House of Delegates took their daily allowances from the state to cover living expenses during the General Assembly’s 55 days of overtime.

Only 41 delegates agreed to accept the compensation. Another 12 accepted the $115-per-day allowance, but said they would donate it to charity.

Although not all the bills are in, the per diem payments brought the total cost of the unprecedented extra session to about $65,000, Bruce F. Jamerson, clerk of the House of Delegates, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 40 senators declined to accept the allowances, so the extra days did not cost taxpayers any more than the normal daily expenditures of the Senate being in session, said Susan Clarke Schaar, clerk of the Senate.

Neither the House nor the Senate hired extra people for the extra days. The General Assembly was supposed to adjourn March 13 after a 60-day session, but legislators couldn’t agree on a new two-year state budget until May 7.

During the regular winter session, both chambers hired extra personnel — such as pages, legislative assistants, secretaries and additional clerks — to keep proposed legislation moving forward. Mr. Jamerson said the House hired about 150 extra people.

The costs of the 60-day regular session came to $20,110 per day in the 40-member Senate and $36,100 in the 100-member House, bringing the total cost of the regular session to about $3.4 million.

Mr. Jamerson said the per diem payments have not been mailed out yet, and some additional legislators might yet opt out. In addition, the estimated costs do not include mileage allowed the legislators.

Legislative salaries are $18,000 a year.

• Ethics complaint

Advocates for Hispanic residents of Maryland are asking for an ethics investigation of two state delegates who were involved in a confrontation with lobbyists in March during the General Assembly session.

A complaint filed last week with the legislative ethics committee says that Baltimore County Republicans Patrick McDonough and Richard K. Impallaria violated ethical standards by berating witnesses who had just testified against one of their bills.

Mr. McDonough has said he approached the witnesses to discuss what he thought was an unfair attempt during their testimony to characterize him as a racist.

Two of the people involved in the confrontation, as well as representatives from CASA of Maryland and the Maryland Latino Coalition for Justice filed the complaint.

Ricardo Flores of the coalition said the legislators need to be held accountable. He said he wants to make sure such behavior won’t be tolerated in the future.

• The replacement

Cecil County, Md., Democrats have selected Chesapeake City council member Harry Sampson to face Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican, in the November election.

Mr. Sampson lost in the March Democratic primary for the 1st District to Ann Tamlyn of Queen Anne’s County. Miss Tamlyn, who recently withdrew her bid for health reasons, endorsed Kostas Alexakis to succeed her.

“I am very pleased and happy that the Democratic Central Committee has chosen me,” Mr. Sampson said. “I feel that I am a candidate who can defeat Wayne Gilchrest in November.”

Mr. Sampson also is running for re-election to the town council. His wife, Democratic Central Committee member Tracey Sampson, also is running for a seat on the council.

The couple has said that if Mr. Sampson won the nomination, he would drop out of the town race. If he didn’t, his wife would drop out.

• A secure job

A former superintendent of the Maryland State Police has been tapped by Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to lead the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Miss Minner announced Wednesday that she has selected David B. Mitchell, 53, to succeed James Ford Jr., who retired May 1.

“I am more than confident that I have the right person for the job,” Miss Minner said.

If confirmed by the state Senate, Mr. Mitchell will take over a department responsible for everything from enforcement of alcohol and tobacco laws to highway safety and emergency management.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Mr. Mitchell, a resident of Centreville, Md.

One of the biggest challenges facing Mr. Mitchell is addressing problems within the Delaware State Police, which has been beset by lawsuits and morale issues in recent years.

“I am not here to affix blame. I am here to help fix problems,” Mr. Mitchell said at a press conference as Delaware State Police Superintendent Aaron Chaffinch stood behind him.

Superintendent Chaffinch and Deputy Superintendent Lt. Col. Thomas MacLeish are the subjects of an internal grievance being investigated by an outside firm.

The grievance was filed by Capt. Gregory Warren, who filed a federal lawsuit last year claiming that Miss Minner, a Democrat, has repeatedly and illegally blocked his promotion to major because he publicly supported her Republican opponent in the 2000 election.

Robert Redding Jr. contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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