State Roundup, August 10, 2018

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JEALOUS WANTS RGA ADS PULLED: Objecting to a new attack ad, a lawyer for Democrat Ben Jealous’ campaign for governor said Thursday that he sent letters to local TV stations asking them to pull the ad he says was deceptively edited to paint Jealous as a “socialist.” The ad, paid for by the Republican Governors Association, includes an edited clip of an interview Jealous did with MSNBC to make it look like Jealous was embracing socialism, not rejecting it, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

DEMS RESPOND WITH BUPKIS: In a commentary for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz opines that on a day when Ben Jealous’ advisers outlined to reporters a plausible path to victory over Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the Maryland gubernatorial election, the Democratic nominee instead found himself generating international headlines for dropping the F bomb at a campaign event in Towson Wednesday morning. Since winning the Democratic primary six weeks ago, Jealous has tried to shrug off attempts to red-bait him This incident serves as a reminder that a well-funded Republican assault on Jealous is already well under way on the airwaves, while the Democratic response has been…bupkis.

NEW HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROGRAM: With dozens of Maryland youths victimized each year by human traffickers, Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday proposed new initiatives to fight the crime, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. The Republican governor, who is seeking re-election, signed an executive order creating an anti-human trafficking director position in the Governor’s Office of Crime Control And Prevention. The director will be charged with coordinating services for victims and advising law enforcement officials on responses to human trafficking.

HOGAN GETS UNION BACKING: Gov. Larry Hogan has won the endorsement of a union that four years ago supported his Democratic opponent and financed a $500,000 last-minute push against him. The Laborers’ International Union of North America is the fourth union that traditionally backs Democrats but is supporting Hogan (R) this year, Erin Cox of the Post reports.

HOGAN DEFENDS RECORD AT CORRECTIONS: Gov. Larry Hogan, seeking to counter what he called “misinformation,” has sent a letter to thousands of Maryland correctional officers defending his record on managing the state prison system, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. Hogan has come under fire in recent years from Democratic lawmakers and the union that represents state correctional officers over persistently high vacancy rates in state prisons, a condition that has required the state to pay overtime, and led to complaints that prison employees are left exhausted and feeling unsafe.

HOGAN CONTINUES TO LEAD BAY PROGRAM: Gov. Larry Hogan hosted the 2018 annual meeting of the Chesapeake Executive Council of the Chesapeake Bay Program, where he was unanimously elected as chairman for a second consecutive term. Hogan was joined by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Delaware Gov. John Carney, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Chesapeake Bay Commission Chairman Frank Wagner. Representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and key environmental stakeholders also were in attendance, writes Christina Acosta for the Easton Star Democrat.

CORRUPTION IN THE STATE HOUSE? Maryland is one of the more corrupt states in the nation, according to a survey of journalists who cover statehouses across the country, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. The General Assembly pulled in the worst score possible, a 5 (“extremely common”) on the Corruption in America survey’s scale of 1-5. The executive branch wasn’t far behind, rating a 4 (“very common”). The Institute for Corruption Studies, located at Illinois State University, issues six ratings for each state — two for the executive branch, two for the legislative and two for the judicial. In each case, the researchers distinguish between “illegal corruption” and “legal corruption.”

CONGESTED STATE PARKS: Maryland state parks have gotten so popular that the Maryland Park Service is having to turn more people away, Scott Dance reports in the Sun. Some relief from the congestion could be on the horizon. More money is flowing into Program Open Space, a state fund used to buy land for new parks and to invest in existing ones, and park service officials say they are eyeing opportunities to expand.

STATE HEALTH AGENCY APPOINTMENTS: Maryland Health Secretary Robert Neall on Thursday installed two public health veterans in key positions within the agency. Neall announced that Howard Haft would be the executive director for the new Maryland Primary Care Program and that Fran Phillips would be replacing Haft as the deputy secretary for Public Health Services, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes..

VIOLENT CRIME IN BALTIMORE COUNTY: Violent crime increased by more than 14% in Baltimore County last year. As the general election race for county executive gets under way, both candidates – Democrat Johnny Olszewski and Republican Al Redmer – say they have plans to improve public safety in the county, John Lee of WYPR-FM reports.

TRIBUNE SUIT AGAINST SINCLAIR: Jessica Iannetta of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that Tribune Media is suing Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. for $1 billion in damages, alleging that the recently terminated merger between the two television rivals could have been completed months ago if Sinclair had not “fought, threatened, insulted and misled” federal regulators, according to documents filed in Delaware court Thursday. In its extraordinarily detailed 62-page complaint, Tribune alleges that throughout the process Sinclair “antagonized” federal officials, including at one point threatening to sue the Department of Justice and another time telling the DOJ, “sue me.”

MISERABLE END TO SINCLAIR-TRIB MERGER: Sun media critic David Zurawik opines that Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group’s now failed takeover bid for Tribune Media brought it a kind of national scrutiny it had never faced in its history, particularly for its conservative politics. “From the moment it was announced, I predicted the deal would make Sinclair the most hated company in America. But I never imagined it would end as miserably as it did this morning for the Hunt-Valley-based broadcaster, with Tribune walking away from the deal and announcing a $1 billion lawsuit against Sinclair for its conduct in handling the deal.”

FREDERICK COUNCIL HOPEFUL DENIES SOCIAL MEDIA POST: A candidate for Frederick County Council expressed regret Thursday for a racist social media post on his Facebook page from four years ago, but asserted that it was the result of a hack. Allen Etzler of the Frederick News Post reports. Michael Blue, a Republican seeking a seat on the County Council representing District 5, came under fire this past week when the post that he shared in 2014 resurfaced.