In a room last summer, the brain trust behind the only Republican governor to lead Maryland since Spiro Agnew sat thumbing through a campaign strategy to suppress turnout among the state’s black voters.
It was a document that could have seemed like a relic, more likely to be found in a campaign office during the time of Agnew and the 1960s civil rights movement than during a campaign in 2010 to reelect former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
Now, the document in the hands of the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor. It constitutes the centerpiece of indictments issued this week that that accuse one of Ehrlich’s most trusted aides, as well as a campaign consultant, of conspiring to suppress the black vote last year.
For the defense, the document is no less important. The voter suppression strategy was flatly rejected by those present at the meeting last summer, according to an attorney for Paul Schurick, Ehrlich’s de facto campaign manager, and the apparent inspiration for the document’s namesake, “The Schurick Doctrine.”
“So, they’ve got this document, which was rejected and they are trying to look at all the remaining activity through this filter, as if it was their blueprint, which it absolutely was not,” said Schurick’s attorney, Peter Zeidenberg, who said it was likely the meeting last summer took place at Ehrlich’s campaign headquarters in Annapolis.
“There was a meeting and any suggestion of voter suppression was flatly and unequivocally rejected at that time,” he said. “The fact that the prosecutor has chosen to leave that in the indictment is going to be vigorously protested at trial.”