Earlier in 2005, a scandal broke out in Maryland politics. Over the course of a few months, an aide to Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich was caught discussing rumours about Democratic Mayor of Baltimore Martin O'Malley's alleged extramarital affairs. Since these two political heavyweights appear to be the front-runners for the next Governor's election, no amount of mudslinging would be too small or too soon in such a battle.
The scandal was that this Republican aide, Joe Steffen, was contacted on the public discussion boards and private messages of Freerepublic.com and discussed the allegations about O'Malley and a female TV reporter in Baltimore, Sade Baderinwa. The rumour was that O'Malley o'impregnated her, and she mysteriously ended up in a New York City station. You may recall that she was hit by a car while reporting a story on flooding in New Jersey in 2004. Same woman...
Now, as a former radio/tv guy, the part about Baderinwa moving to New York City from Baltimore makles sense - as a reporter, there is no beat quite as prestigious in local broadcast news than working in US market #1, New York City. Some people work their whole broadcasting career just for a shot in NYC, where the visibility, money and pace are pretty much unmatched. It simply makes sense to move from market #18, Baltimore, to New York City.
What doesn't make sense to me is how this rumour still has legs. Mayor O'Malley is a Cool Guy. He's smart. Emotional. Muscular. Plays in an Irish rock band. He seems to be quite a hit with the ladies. I Believe I unknowingly drank a pint of a particular stout with the man - when I first moved back to Baltimore in 2000, I couldn't pick the Mayor out of a lineup of midget porn stars. As we sat next to each other at Mick O'Shea's, I asked his name, and he said "Martin. I'm in the band O'Malley's March. We're playing tonight."
Hmmm....it took me a little while to figure out that the two Baltimore City police officers outside weren't there to just check IDs.
But, to that effect, when you need a pickup volleyball game in Baltimore County, then-US Representative Bob Ehrlich is no slouch, either. A former two-sport athlete at Princeton, The Gov can spike like a beast. He's a Republican version of O'Malley, but without the guitar. Both men care about their jurisdictions, and both men tend to speak clearly before thinking like a politician - a surprisingly refreshing trait in an elected leader. Neither one is afraid of calling a reporter to task about a story or even allowing an emotional outburst on something they feel strongly about.
That's what makes the whole original scandal so strange - neither O'Malley or Ehrlich shy away from a good fight, so the back-channel subterfuge seemed so out-of-place. Why would a relatively-anonymous Ehrlich aide slander the handsome young mayor almost two years before the election? But, that's exactly what Steffen did. In his posts and messages with the user "MD4BUSH," he revealed the rumours and the potential strategy of the Republican's against O'Malley. The posts then go public, revealed by MD4BUSH, the firestorm develops, and Ehrlich fires Steffen.
However, along comes this story from WBAL in Baltimore. Here's a snip.
"According to a source familiar with the MD4Bush postings, the e-mail address used in October 2004 to open the MD4Bush account is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources said that e-mail address was later changed to email@example.com, then changed for a third time to firstname.lastname@example.org. That third e-mail address remains as the address registered on the Free Republic account, which remains open."
Take a look at that second address - email@example.com - and here's what the article has to say about that.
"The firstname.lastname@example.org address is the same address listed to Ryan O'Doherty, who used to work for the Maryland Democratic Party."
Interesting. Could it be that the Dems began hanging out at the known conservative site Freerepublic.com trying to bait somebody? Sure looks like it on first blush.
What's sad is that this storm might taint the upcoming election towards the other powerful Democratic challenge, Montgomery County executive Doug Duncan. There is no denying that Baltimore is a better city since O'Malley came to office. There's also no denying that Maryland is better off since Ehrlich came to office. Both are young, active, engaging Catholics in a rather Catholic state, but neither have a hotline to the Vatican. These two guys, who have a lot more in common than the respective R and D after their names on the television captions, could have engaged in some great "Balmer" dialcet while arguing about who's better - the Ravens or the Colts.
Hmmm...the plot thickens...