The AG Race; Where are the Scandals?

Blair Lee, Gazette.Net

Now that the Washington Post has declared Maryland’s gubernatorial primary over, we can look at the down-ballot races. Reporting on its poll results last week, the Post’s sub-headline read, “Survey shows no path to victory for (Anthony Brown’s) Democratic rivals.”

Guess there’s no reason to vote, now. Can you be any more in the tank for Brown than the Post? And thanks, Post, for compounding what looks like a record-low voter turnout next week.

Other races? Comptroller Peter Franchot is unopposed but there’s a hot race for attorney general, an office most voters don’t understand. The AG isn’t a criminal prosecutor; the AG is the state’s legal counsel advising the governor, the legislature and every state agency. Think of the AG as the head of the state’s law firm, not a cop.

The office is open because the current AG, Doug Gansler, is running for governor. Three Democrats are vying to replace him, Delegate Jon Cardin (Baltimore County), Senator Brian Frosh (Montgomery) and Delegate Aisha Braveboy (PG).

Interestingly, the AG’s race is the exact reverse of the governor’s race. In the governor’s race Anthony Brown is the establishment’s candidate; he’s got the politicians, the labor unions, the special interests, the media and the money behind him. And he’s running far ahead of his opponents.

In the A.G. race Brian Frosh is the establishment’s candidate; almost all the same folks backing Brown are backing Frosh. But Frosh is trailing Cardin by 6 to 10 points just days before the election so the establishment is pulling out all the stops to boost Frosh by slandering Cardin.

The Frosh campaign is in attack mode lambasting Cardin on TV, radio and in direct mail. It’s the ugly, desperate stuff you get from a losing candidate in the last days of a campaign.

But, that, I’m used to. What’s sickening is watching the media and the establishment help destroy Cardin on Frosh’s behalf. Don’t get me wrong, I’m voting for Brian Frosh on June 24. I’ve known him since we worked together on Capitol Hill 47 years ago and he’s by far, the best person for the job.

But that’s not what I’m talking about, I’m condemning the establishment’s last-minute smear campaign waged by holier-than-thou progressives who pretend they don’t play dirty. Here are the smears:

1. “Cardin is shamelessly trying to cash in on the regard and admiration that Maryland Democrats have for his uncle, Senator Ben Cardin. ... if his name was Jon Smith (he) would never have considered getting into the race,” writes political columnist Laslo Boyd.

What hypocrisy. At least Jon Cardin served a couple of terms in the state legislature. Back in 2006 a young man with no elected background, whatsoever, decided that he should be Maryland’s 3rd District Congressman. The seat was open because Congressman Ben Cardin was running for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, the young man’s father.

So, young John Sarbanes cruised to victory largely on his father’s name with no media or establishment complaints. If his name was John Sardines, instead of Sarbanes, he’d still be a private citizen.

Nor did it hurt young Brian Frosh, when he first ran for the legislature in 1986, that he shared a last name with respected judge Stan Frosh, his dad. When Sarbanes and Frosh “shamelessly cashed in” on their family names there was no outrage because they were the establishment’s candidates. That’s the only difference between now and then.

2. Jon Cardin missed 75 percent of his committee votes in this year’s legislative session. Shocking, until you understand that these were meaningless, pro-forma votes that Cardin’s vote wouldn’t have changed. Even the committee chairwoman, a Frosh supporter, admits that.

3. Jon Cardin filed for his full daily legislative food allowance ($2,688) this year. Big deal, Frosh filed for $1,470 and Braveboy for $2,604. Where’s the scandal?

4. Jon Cardin is linked to sex-trafficking and prostitution. It’s true, this month a hip-hop rapper named Ski (pronounced “Sky”) Money gave Cardin $100 and posed in a photo that the Cardin campaign posted. Turns out Ski Money, whom Cardin never met before, faces two dozen sex trafficking charges.

Cardin immediately returned the $100 and renounced Ski Money’s endorsement after the media blew it up into a guilt-by-association “scandal” that would have made the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy proud.

I guess Cardin should have said, “Ski you’re a black rapper, I can’t let you endorse me until I run a background check.” Of course, that would have been a racial discrimination scandal.

Meanwhile, Brian Frosh is struggling to explain why $34,000 of in-kind contributions, a clear violation of the $4,000 limit, keeps showing up on his campaign reports. But you’ll never read about that because Frosh is the establishment candidate. Instead we get Ski Money.

But here’s the real AG’s race scandal, the media/establishment is so busy tearing down Jon Cardin that they’ve completely ignored the third candidate, Aisha Braveboy, an under-funded African-American woman who’s chairwoman of the legislative Black caucus.

That’s right, the self-righteuous, morally superior establishment types who pride themselves on uplifting women and minorities are too busy playing dirty politics to give a respectable black woman a fair shot.

I hope Brian Frosh wins, but I hate the way it’s being done.

Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His past columns are available at His email address is