Maryland: Fourth Circuit dismisses political consultant’s challenge of illegal Election Day robocall | Baltimore Sun

A federal court on Monday rejected political consultant Julius Henson’s appeal of a $1 million civil judgment against him for an illegal Election Day robocall. The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision that Henson, his company, Universal Elections Inc., and an employee violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act with a November 2010 automated campaign message to more than 112,000 Democratic voters in Maryland. In the case brought by Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, the state argued that the call was designed to suppress black votes. The message failed to include information on the call’s sponsor. Henson was employed by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Martin O’Malley for re-election.

Maryland: Julius Henson “Robo Call” Verdict Affirmed by Marylan Appeals court | Afro

Maryland’s second-highest court has affirmed the verdict in the election fraud trial of a campaign consultant involving Election Day automated calls that prosecutors said were aimed at keeping Black voters from the polls. Julius Henson worked for former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s campaign during his 2010 rematch with Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. Last year, a Baltimore jury convicted him of conspiring to send robocalls without an authority line that explained who sent the message. He appealed, arguing that the verdict was inconsistent and the application of the election law was constitutionally vague. The Court of Special Appeals disagreed with both questions in a ruling filed last week. It also found that the jury instruction was not erroneous and a sentence barring participation in politics during probation was legal. “This case presents us with a sad tale,” wrote Judge Albert J. Matricciani, for a three-judge panel that ruled on the case.

Maryland: Civil penalty adds to fallout from Maryland robo-call case | The Washington Post

If criminal convictions were not enough, add $1 million in civil penalties to the list of reasons Maryland politicos may think twice about ordering another election-night robo-call that could be viewed as trying to suppress voter turnout. A federal judge on Tuesday sided with Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and ordered that a consultant to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) should pay for each of 112,000 automated phone calls that failed to identify Ehrlich’s campaign as the one that paid for the messages. The calls were placed to homes of tens of thousands of African American Democrats in Prince George’s County and Baltimore on Election Day 2010. They told listeners to “relax” and to not worry about going to the polls, because the incumbent, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), and President Obama had already been “successful” in the day’s voting.

Maryland: Ex-Ehrlich campaign manager Schurick convicted in robocall case | The Washington Post

Paul E. Schurick, the 2010 campaign manager for former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., was convicted Tuesday by a Baltimore jury of four counts stemming from a robocall that prosecutors said was intended to suppress the black vote.

The call, which Schurick acknowledged authorizing, was placed on Election Day to 112,000 voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, the state’s two largest majority-African American jurisdictions. Recipients were told by an unidentified woman that they could “relax” because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had been successful. The guilty verdict not only sullied the three-decade career of one of Maryland’s best-known political operatives, it also served as a major embarrassment for Ehrlich, the state’s only Republican governor in a generation.

Although prosecutors have never suggested that Ehrlich approved the calls, he is pushing a new book that draws anecdotes from his four years in Annapolis and contends his failed comeback bid last year was “swamped” by the black vote.

Maryland: Case May Discourage Political Dirty Tricks | NPR

A little-noticed trial in Maryland could affect how many dirty tricks voters will see in the upcoming elections — things like anonymous fliers or phone calls telling people to vote on the wrong day, or in the wrong precinct, or that they can’t vote at all if they have an outstanding parking ticket. The tactics are often illegal, but it’s rare for anyone to get caught, let alone end up in court.

The case in Maryland involves the 2010 rematch between former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich and incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley. On Election Day, the Ehrlich campaign knew that things weren’t going well. It was losing African-American voters in droves.

At around 3 p.m., Ehrlich’s political director, Bernie Marczyk, sent campaign manager Paul Schurick an email asking, “What does Julius need to make the city turnout stay low?”

Maryland: Robocalls case goes to jury | The Washington Post

The case has been sent to the jury after lawyers from both sides gave closing arguments. State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt argued that Paul Schurick’s contention that the robocalls would prompt Ehrlich voters to go to the polls was “ridiculous” and that Schurick committed crimes when he authorized the call.

Schurick’s lawyer, A. Dwight Pettit, said Schurick relied on the advice of consultant Julius Henson, who he said made a judgment that might have been questionable politically but did not amount to a crime by Schurick.

Maryland: Vote suppression alleged in Maryland election fraud |

Maryland prosecutors in an election fraud case have introduced campaign documents suggesting a plan to suppress African-American votes. The documents were introduced as prosecutors rested their case Wednesday against Paul Schurick, campaign manager for former Republican Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on two counts of conspiracy and one count each of election fraud and obstruction of justice, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Similar charges have been filed against political consultant Julius Henson, whose company, Universal Elections Inc., was involved in the November 2010 gubernatorial election.

Maryland: Prosecutors: GOP ‘robocall’ plan to suppress black votes hatched on hectic Election Day |

A plan by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s campaign manager to suppress black votes in Baltimore and Prince George’s County was hatched shortly before 3 p.m. on a desperate, hectic Election Day last year, prosecutors alleged Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Needing low voter turnout in those jurisdictions, aides to Ehrlich, a Republican, conferred with political consultant Julius Henson on a strategy to keep those votes down, according to emails presented to the jury in the election fraud case against Ehrlich’s campaign manager, Paul Schurick, 55, of Crownsville.

“What does Julius need to make city turnout stay low?” campaign political director Bernie Marczyk wrote in a 2:53 p.m. email to Schurick, proposing additional bonuses for Henson if he could keep residents from the polls.

Maryland: Robocall Trial Gives Rare Glimpse Behind Slimy, Election-Day Tactic | NPR

An interesting political trial got under way Tuesday in Baltimore. It involves robocalls made during the 2010 rematch between former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, and the Democratic incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The calls were made Election Day afternoon by consultants working for the Ehrlich campaign and went to about 110,000 Democratic voters. The voters were told to “relax,” that “O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct, and we took it back.” The caller, never identified, went on to say that “the only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”

Maryland: Other states need a lesson from Maryland on robocalls | Baltimore Sun

On Election Day 2010, with the polls still open, computers placed calls to 112,000 voters in predominately African-American precincts in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County with an unusual message: “Relax” and stay home. The recorded message did not identify the calls’ sponsor; essentially, it told voters that Gov. Martin O’Malley had won and they did not need to vote.

Such campaign “dirty tricks” have been part of Maryland elections for years, pursued by both parties largely because the perpetrators judged they would neither be caught nor prosecuted.

In any case, there now are hopeful signs that such hijinks may soon be a thing of the past. A Baltimore grand jury recently returned criminal indictments against two aides to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., charging them with arranging the robocalls in a scheme to suppress voter turnout in heavily Democratic areas. One of the defendants, Julius Henson, also is among the targets of a multimillion-dollar civil suit filed by Maryland and U.S. officials.

Maryland: ‘Relax’ Robocaller’s Lawyer Argues ‘Dirty Tricks’ Are Free Speech | TPMMuckraker

A Maryland political operative behind misleading election day robocalls has a long and colorful history of political tricks so dirty that even in Baltimore political consultants “don’t want to even breathe the same air as him.” But a lawyer representing Julius Henson (who has admitted he was responsible for robocalls telling mostly Democratic voters not to bother going to the polls on Election Day) is arguing that his client’s right to free speech protects such tactics.

Henson, a Democrat, was working for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R) in his campaign against Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). The political operative has a long history in election shenanigans, much of it in the underbelly of campaigns in Baltimore and Prince George’s County.

Editorials: Vote suppression in the Maryland governor’s race? | The Washington Post

“We’re okay. Relax. Everything’s fine.” Those reassuring words phoned to tens of thousands of Maryland residents last year on Election Day were part of a smarmy effort to convince voters that — even though the polls were still open — they need not vote because Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) already had won. “The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.” The calls were deceptive and, state prosecutors have concluded, illegal. Their decision to bring criminal charges is a powerful message that such tactics should not be tolerated.

Two political operatives who worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., also a former governor, were indicted by a Baltimore city grand jury Thursday on charges of orchestrating robocalls to more than 100,000 Democratic voters as part of a scheme to suppress the African American vote. Paul E. Schurick, top aide to Mr. Ehrlich, and political consultant Julius Henson were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to violate Maryland election law. Mr. Schurick, a fixture in Maryland politics, was also indicted on a count of obstruction of justice for allegedly withholding documentation that had been subpoenaed. An indictment is an allegation of facts, not proof, and lawyers for both men proclaimed the innocence of their clients. An attorney for Mr. Schurick said the charges were based upon “a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts” and said they would be vigorously challenged.