Why Is the Post Downplaying This?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Is the Post Downplaying This?

Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (left) has set a new low
in the sordid world of campaign fundraising.

In Maryland, Democrats are hoping to retake the governor's mansion. Their candidate, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, has aired a TV ad noting that Gov. Robert Ehrlich is "under investigation for illegal tactics."

Like many newspapers, the Washington Post does periodic analyses of campaign ads (not available online). In its analysis of the O'Malley TV ad, the Post writes that the investigation "is not as ominous as the (O'Malley) ad makes it sound."

So what's the investigation about? On Sunday, the Post's "Ad Watch" explained:
Ehrlich recently sent out a fundraising solicitation that included real dollar bills and asked potential donors to return them with at least $25 more.

A state elections board official determined there is "probable cause" that the mailer ran afoul of two elections laws, one that prohibits buying votes and one that requires campaign expenditures to be made by check. The matter has been referred to the state prosecutor.
The Post may consider the investigation to be less "ominous" than it sounds in the O'Malley TV ad, but it's hard to take issue with the ad, which makes a factual statement about the Ehrlich tactic being “under investigation” for possible illegalities.

Regardless of how much cash was in each envelope, this was a pretty sordid tactic by Ehrlich — sending actual dollar bills to potential contributors. Why is the Post downplaying this?

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