- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 17, 2005

Maryland Democratic Party officials acknowledged yesterday that they have replaced their executive director but said the move is little more than a change in job titles.

The party has replaced Joshua M. White with acting Executive Director Derek Walker, who had served as the party’s communications director.

Mr. White was reassigned some time last month to the job of political director.

The reorganization comes as more evidence shows a state Democratic Party operative was involved in a “dirty tricks” campaign to smear the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

However, party officials said yesterday that the job changes were not related.

“There is zero connection,” Mr. Walker said.

Mr. Walker said he recently has been taking on more executive director duties while Mr. White has increasingly acted in a more political role.

“Nothing has really changed in our roles,” he said. “That’s the reason for the lack of fanfare.”

The party never announced the change but recently updated the information on its Web site. Mr. White’s name still appears on the list of party staff but without a job title.

The change also was not publicized within the party, resulting in some confusion.

Campaign staffers for a high-profile Democrat said privately that they heard only last week about the switch.

The party recently has come under more scrutiny for its connection to MD4Bush, the screen name of a visitor to an Internet chat room who reputedly orchestrated the smear campaign.

The owner of the conservative Web site FreeRepublic.com revealed last month that MD4Bush was registered to the e-mail address of a state Democratic Party staffer.

WBAL-TV (Channel 11) in Baltimore reported this week that the e-mail address belonged to Ryan O’Doherty, who at the time worked as a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

Earlier this year, MD4Bush enticed former Ehrlich aide Joseph F. Steffen Jr. into rumormongering about Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat running for governor next year. The person then turned over the written exchanges to The Washington Post.

The uproar over Mr. Steffen, who detractors say was responsible for targeting Democratic state workers for firing, spawned the ongoing state probe of the administration, the General Assembly’s first of someone outside the legislature in more than 25 years.



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