Skip to comments.Judge Dismisses [Baltimore] Sun Suit Against [MD Governor] Ehrlich
Posted on 02/14/2005 10:18:07 AM PST by nunya bidness
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the order by Governor Ehrlich barring state employees from contact with two Sun writers.
U-S District Court Judge William Quarles said in his order he was dismissing the case filed by The Sun because The Sun was seeking more access to government officials than that accorded a private citizen. The judge wrote, "The Sun seeks the declaration of a constitutional right that neither the Supreme Court nor the Fourth Circuit has recognized."
The judge also ruled the The Sun could not demonstrate irreparable harm or the likelihood of success in the case on its merits.
Sun editor Tim Franklin says he's disappointed by the decision and says The Sun is weighing a possible appeal.
Governor Ehrlich, at an event in suburban Washington, said he would not comment on the dismissal until he can review the court decision.
The Ehrlich administration issued the order last fall, barring state employees from talking to the Sun's State House bureau chief David Nitkin and columnist Michael Olesker.
Ehrlich said the two journalists were not objectively covering his administration.
The Sun brought the suit in December, asking that the order be lifted, claiming it viiolates the First Amendment rights of Nitkin and Olesker, because it denied them the same opportunities to get information as other news organizations and citizens.
Susan McIntire, Towson: Do you really believe that [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich [Jr.] had never heard of the rumors, as he was quoted in The Sun?
Nitkin: Susan, Gov. Ehrlich has now refined his answer, and has said "you have to have been under a rock" not to have heard the rumor. He blames his earlier answer about saying he had never heard the rumor on the swirl of questions surrounding him one day last week.
Alisa Bralove-Scherr, Owings Mills: What is The Sun's rationale for not reporting on the rumor sooner? It's been out there for quite a while, and whether it's true or false, hasn't the existence of it been news for some time now?
Nitkin: Alisa, let's distinguish between "reporting" on the rumor and actually publishing a story on it. The Sun did investigate tips it received surrounding the rumor, and, it is safe to say, none of them have been verified. But even if they had been, there is no guarantee a story would have appeared in the paper.
After pursuing the reporting and finding evidence, there would have been a whole series of discussions about whether the information would have warranted a news story. Factors we would have considered would have been whether the situation was some sort of violation of public -- not just private -- trust; and whether public resources were involved or impacted.
Susan Steele, Baltimore: If Steffen was just "reporting" on rumors that he heard, who (specifically) was he hearing it from and where did that person(s) get the "information"?
Nitkin: Susan, it sure is hard to find the one, single person who was the originator of a story or rumor. Who started the story about Mikey, the Life cereal kid, dying after eating Pop Rocks? Suffice to say, the rumor is out there. There is no proof yet that Steffen was the source of it.
Bob Price, Lutherville: In his Feb. 10 column, [The Sun's] Dan Rodricks wrote that Joe Steffen is the "source of ... rumors" about Martin O'Malley. Has it been established or is there any evidence that Steffen is the "source" of the rumors rather than merely one of perhaps thousands of people who have been repeating a rumor that has been circulating for years?
Nitkin: Bob, no. There is no solid evidence that Steffen is the source of the rumors. In fact, posters on the FreeRepublic Web site, which Steffen was using, note that it would be a strange tactic to use a site devoted national politics to spread what is really a local or regional rumor.
Jeff Wilson, Baltimore: If the rumors about the mayor have been going around for months, how come it is coming out now that somebody from a rival party mentions it?
Nitkin: Jeff, the reason The Sun published the story last week was because the governor immediately forced the resignation of his aide, Steffen, after learning he had posted e-mails about the rumor. The information was provided to the governor by The Washington Post, which, likely, would have published a story that day even if Steffen had not been forced to resign, based on being able to link Steffen to the Internet postings.
For The Sun, the firing was the triggering, newsworthy event. Additionally, we followed up because O'Malley spoke publicly the next day for the first time, addressing the rumors and refuting them. We did not publish a story prior to last week because the rumors were just that -- rumors, and unsubstantiated ones at that.
Ray Van de Castle, Hanover, Pa.: This sounds like something Karl Rove would push from his White House office; is there any connection between Steffen and Rove -- maybe a seminar on dirty politics?
Nitkin: Ray, that's an interesting question. There is a connection between Steffen and Lee Atwater through the National Conservative Political Action Committee, where Steffen used to work. After [Baltimore Mayor Martin] O'Malley's re-election last year, Senate President Mike Miller sent the mayor a copy of a lengthy Atlantic magazine article on Rove and his tactics, and told the mayor "this is what you are up against." We know of no connection between Steffen and Rove.
Hit your lists if you got 'em.
I sent this post to you, did you get it? We need this kinda stuff in MD.
"There was a great article in the atlantic (lib mag my wife reads) about Rove. The writer whines all about Roves tricks, but they work and he is a genius. He got a rumor started about this dem judge who gave a lot of money to a charity for kids, so they took those pictures of the judge with the kids and said he was a gay pedophile. It worked.
Check it out: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200411/green
I'm sure that this lawsuit and the result will in no way affect how the paper covers the governor and his administration (yeah, try not to laugh too hard).
It doesn't take a smart man to try to entice Steffen to admit to hearing rumors. But the Atlantic article is the key to this and the Sun has now published that Miller mentioned the article. That's a link.
Is Miller known as 926er over at the Balt'o Sun forum? that poster also referenced the same Atlantic article. The style stuck me as being similar to that of MD4Bush.
I saw that you mentioned that previously. I'll go check out the screename now. Do you have any idea the symbolism of the name "926er"?
I had it a bit wrong, the actual handle is dc925er.
That may indeed have symbolism. It could signify a person who is in DC but hails from Alameda County, a suburb of SF.
Your mention of that person has prompted a response: http://www.baltimoresun2.com/talk/showthread.php?p=208614
It's a comment by dc925er on a thread started by a poster by the name of Jack Dublin who announces he/she is no longer posting under his/her name:
As of today, I will not post under the handle Jack Dublin. Although many times I voiced my real opinions under this name, I also just as often used Jack Dublin as a fictitious character to write satire, intentionally controversial opinions, and just to stir the pot. But in the current climate created by the postings of Joseph F. Steffen Jr., I have decided that it would be best from now on to only post as my self, and I should only voice real opinions.
Although it appears Steffen was voicing real opinions under his handle, I would like to avoid any confusion or complications in the future between what I actually think on any subject and what I say behind an imaginary character.
I think the Steffen scandal is the beginning of the end to the anonymous and often times anything goes forums on the Web. I believe any postings one may make under an anonymous name, that are deemed controversial by whomever, despite privacy agreements, may begin to become fodder in the dirty little wars we all face from day to day in our professional and personal lives. That is too bad. Our nation was founded in part on the anonymous writings in the Federalist Papers (ala Publius). But in a modern world where humor is sometimes confused with personal sentiment and opinion and debate can be construed as negativity, prejudice, or worse, I would rather stand on my own good name than the musings of a created persona.
Ill miss you Jack. Its been fun.
This was posted on 2/10/05. Notice that dc925er spaced out the word "freeper"? Is that a way to keep Google's spiders from making a hit? (that's the question for you JohnRob).
And people wonder why, as a Maryland resident, I refuse to subscribe to the B.S. newspaper.
bump for later read
dc925er mentions it's creepy ... heck, I think it's VERY creepy that they found my post on that other thread so quickly!
We ... are .... being .... watched! :=)
Mike Miller is too full of himself to bother doing dirty tricks like this. Another elite and arrogant Marylander.
MD4Bush - Our own "deep throat" who posted on or around the MD mayoral election as well as the national election of last year. He/she seemed to have a detailed knowledge of Maryland politics as well as certain rumors surrounding Mayor Martin O'Malley (MOM). In addtion, this person posted private correspondence (possibly Freepmail) that would damage the reputation of NCPAC (later outed as Steffen of the Ehrlich administration. The posts in question can be found here posted just after 11pm on 2/08. The Sun and Wapo both ran stories the following day breaking the news.
Michael Olesker, Dan Rodricks, David Nitkin , and whoever else at the Baltimore Sun who may be lurking. It should be noted that Nitkin and Olesker were both banned from the statehouse by the governor. A decision that was upheld today.
The Washington Post, including John Wagner, April Witt, Amet R. Paley, Lena H. Sun, David Snyder, Matthew Mosk, Allison Klein, with Mosk doing most of the heavy lifting. The Post made the connection between MD4Bush and NCPAC (Steffen) first, the day after MD4Bush peppered old threads with private messages.
NCPAC - Now known as Joseph Steffen an Ehrlich staffer who had been consistently posting to FR on a variety of topics, including local MD politics. He has since been fired and admitted to the Sun and Wapo that he was NCPAC. His posts are here.
Links to the Atlantic article - So far mention of the article are David Nitkin of the Sun, MD4Bush here on FR, MD state senate President Mike Miller, and a poster on the Sun's forum known as dc925er. I'm sure this list will grow.
Haven't read that garbage since the News American(AKA News Post) went under and the B.S. decided to head far left as fast as it could.
I think the Sun is letting the Post take the lead on this to distance themselves from any dirty tricks due to the now settled court case with the governor's office.
Setting aside the Atlantic article it seems the person who could gain the most from the rumors, which are now being discussed by the Sun, is Doug Duncan. He's the likely candidate opposite O'Malley for the democrat primary.
It stands to reason that Duncan, or his people, would approach the Post due to its coverage of Montgomery County as a suburb of DC. He could get more traction from them than he could from the Sun as the Sun is clearly endorsing O'Malley as it did in the last election for mayor.
That is definitely a valid theory.
The following are all staff at the MD Democrat Party - Terry Lierman (Chair), Josh White (Executive Director), and Meredith Bowman.
Patricia Unger, President, United Democratic Womens Clubs of Maryland.
John Mahoney, President, Young Democrats of Maryland.
The following are all Montgomery County Council members: Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal, Steve Silverman, Michael Subin, Mike Knapp, Phillip Andrews, Marilyn Praisner, and Tom Perez.
The following are all Baltimore City Council members: John Cain, Nicholas D'Adamo, Jr., Lois Garey, Paula Branch, Pamela Carter, Jack Young, Robert Curran (interesting last name), Kenneth Harris, Lisa Stancil, Keiffer Mitchell, Katherine Pugh, Agnes Welch, Helen Holton, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Ricki Spector, Kwame Osayaba Abayomi, Edward Reisinger, and Melvin Stukes.
Kathy Shatt, Anne Arundel County Democratic Party.
Edie Segree, and Melinda Hamilton, Almost 7:30 Friday Democratic Breakfast Club.
Agnes Holmes, Annapolis Democratic Central Committee.
Mike Gorman, Young Democratic Club of Anne Arundel County.
Agnes Welch, Baltimore City Democratic Party.
Charline Gilbert, Baltimore City Young Democrats.
Mike Mitchell, New Democratic Club.
Bob Murray, United Democratic Club.
Karen Britto, Montgomery County Democratic Party.
Michael Griffiths, African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County.
Keith Steele, Asbury Democratic Club.
Matt Nisenoff, B-CC Democratic Breakfast Club.
Lauri Rodich, District 14 Democratic Club
Daphne Bloomberg, District 15 Democratic Caucus
John Young, District 15 Democratic Club
Don Mooers, District 16 Democratic Club
Kurt Karst, District 17 Democratic Club
Susan Heltemes, District 18 Democratic Breakfast Club
Shirley Johnson, District 19 Democratic Club
Joseph Eyong, District 20 Democratic Caucus
Darrell Anderson, District 39 Democratic Caucus
Craig Rice, Germantown Democratic Club
William Jacobs, Montgomery County Green Democrats
Josh Bokee, New Democrats of Montgomery County
Mary Miller Northern Montgomery Co. Women's Democratic Club
Susan Magazine, Rockville/Mid-County Democratic Breakfast Club
Sylvia Lake, Seneca Potomac Democratic Club
Mark Woodward, Silverspring Democratic Club
Matt Nisenoff, United Democrats of Montgomery County
Dorothy Barthelmes, Woman's Suburban Democratic Club
Adam Luecking, Young Dems of Montgomery County
I'll be googling these folks until the cows come home.
"This has a huge negative impact on the governor because people will finally realize he's bringing radical right-wing campaign tactics to Maryland," said Terry Lierman, the state Democratic Party chairman. "He no longer has deniable culpability. He has to accept that he will be known by the company he keeps."
"Ehrlich said he believes that the controversy will prove to be a momentary distraction. "It is just an unfortunate incident that you have to take care of and then you go on," he said."
Ike Leggett apparently said yesterday that he supports the building of the ICC, a controversial highway that is being planned to run east-west across Montgomery County. As he works to build a campaign for County Executive in the most populous and wealthiest jurisdiction in the state, some had hoped that Leggett would be the progressive alternative to Steve Silverman.
Since there have so far been no mentions of Leggett's position on the ICC on his web site, or in the Post or the Gazette, and since the report is from the new tabloid Examiner that has yet to prove itself (as illustrated by the weak observer piece on the Middle East by Yehuda Lukacs, an offical at George Mason University), we should probably wait for confirmation on this.
Former County Councilman Blair Ewing, Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo, state Republican Party Chair John Kane, and perennial candidate and former Delegate Robin Ficker are also mentioned as potential candidates.
And an aide to Governor Bob Ehrlich was ousted for spreading rumors about Baltimore Mayor and probable gubernatorial candidate Martin O'Malley.
And further back...
Mayor Martin OMalley supported a progressive income tax over fees that disproportionately hit poor Marylanders in a Gazette article today. He also indicated that as a Democrat, he would support the winner of the gubernatorial primary, thus prompting readers to ask themselves the question of whether Doug Duncan would do the same.
The Sun has a good piece on the increasing opportunities for Republicans in Anne Arundel.
And in the most interesting of the three, Dan Rodricks asks us to take a step back on the whole medical malpractice issue to ask whether there is really a crisis at all.
In Montgomery County, Steve Silverman announced his intention to run for County Executive and the Post indicated that Ike Leggett is likely to enter the race for the largest, most Democratic county in the state. Silvermans bid, while relying on what Duncan has been doing over the past few years, will have to answer questions about what he has done to deal with the many problems facing the county, like the skyrocketing cost of housing. "If you don't already own a house in Montgomery County, you never will," says the Rev. Jeff MacKnight.
Seems to me that Steve Silverman has everything to gain from Doug Duncan moving up to governor, namely County Executive for Montgomery County.
POSTED: 7:11 am EST January 28, 2005
ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Montgomery County State's Attorney Doug Gansler said he hasn't decided whether to run for attorney general in 2006, but he's amassed more than $850,000 in campaign money.
The state campaign finance figure dwarfs the war chests of all other possible candidates, including five-term incumbent Joseph Curran, whose spokesman said he has about $35,000 on hand. Curran said he plans to run for a sixth term, but he's spending his time on his job.
State officials said Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey has almost $15,000 in his campaign treasury, and Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez has about $7,600."
Curran's going to have his hands full investigating "dirty tricks" and fighting for his job.
p.s. one thing we should know from all the years of watching the political Kennedy family is this: never underestimate the power and determination of a political family and their money.
Finally, since there is a new paper in the area, has anyone contacted them to see if they are interested in investigating the rumor?
MD4BUSH wasn't all that bright. He left a trail anyone but an MSM reporter could follow.
The rumor has been around as long as Martin O'Malley has been mayor but it's recent incarnation started around last summer and built towards the mayoral election. O'Malley rose from the Baltimore City Council. O'Malley has all but announced he will run for governor. The Sun is far left and very pro-O'Malley and anti-Ehrlich. The Sun will do everything in its power to unseat Ehrlich.
This rumor has been common knowledge in the Balt. City Police Dept. for quite some time. Cops know alot of stuff.
If you don't mind my asking, what does your screename mean?