Archive for Politics

Brian Wilson of WMAL accused of harassment

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson is co-host, along with Larry O’Connor, of Mornings on the Mall on WMAL radio in Washington, DC. He previously worked at Fox News Channel as anchor and reporter.

On the heels of Roger Ailes’ departure from Fox amid sexual harassment allegations, an allegation has now been made against Brian Wilson by a former employee of the network.

The New York Times reported that Rudi Baktiar accused Wilson of improper behavior in 2006 and that she thinks she lost her job over reporting it. Wilson denied the accusation when contacted Friday.

Specficially, Bakhtiar claims that, while having coffee in her DC hotel lobby, Wilson told her he wanted to help her get a permanent job and then said, ““You know how I feel about you, Rudi.”

After that, Bakhtiar says Wilson repeated himself after her response. She alleges that she asked him what he meant and he responded:

“Well, I’d like to see the inside of your hotel room,” adding that he wanted a friends-with-benefits relationship.

Bakhtiar says she was told to report the incident to Human Resources and that her on-air appearances ended and she was eventually let go. The reason given for her firing was due to her job performance.

Wilson denied the allegations to the Times and said, “I take strong exception to the facts of the story as you have relayed it to me, period. Beyond that, I will have no further comment.”

Bakhtiar admits she is risking a lawsuit from the network for violating provisions of a settlement. She told the Times that her lawyer was contacted by Fox News after their inquiries.

The full story discusses an environment where sexual harassment was prevalent according to multiple former employees. These are the latest accusations following an internal investigation that started this week after former host Gretchen Carlson accused Ailes of harrasment. Reportedly, current host Megyn Kelly also alleged harassment by Ailes as part of the internal investigation.

More on Brian Wilson

Wilson’s departure from Fox News made news too.

Howard Kurtz, who was then at The Washington Post, wrote:

Fox insiders say Wilson has had temper issues. In one story involving guns, they say, Wilson was furious after a producer removed the sound of gunfire from his taped piece, even going so far as to knock over file cabinets.

Another story by Betsy Rothstein, who was the editor of FishbowlDC then, noted:

As some may know, Wilson had a very brief stint as the DC Bureau chief, but things were turbulent. He had a number of personnel problems, including temper tantrums and threatening producers in the newsroom with his outbursts.

Another story at FishbowlDC included more details:

Insider reports reveal that Wilson went haywire when a producer tried to replace a shot in one of his TV packages. Wilson reportedly “yelled” and “kicked a chair.” The producer then went to Human Resources to report the incident. Next thing you know, Diane Brandi, of legal affairs in New York, comes to Washington. Sources say Fox News employees said they wouldn’t feel comfortable if Wilson returned to Fox News.

Politico reported in June 2007 on Wilson:

Brian Wilson has been the Fox News D.C. bureau chief for less than six months and already he’s making an impact. Two weeks ago, he had to write an apology letter to Rep. John Conyers for using B-roll of him that was intended to be footage of indicted Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson.

Paper ignores DOJ criticism of Bob Ehrlich

EhrlichA publication I generally only refer to as “a local newspaper” reported tonight on the fact that former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich sent a letter in support of convicted conman Wayne Simmons ahead of the latter’s sentencing in federal court. They made no mention of the fact that federal prosecutors were critical of the former governor’s letter in their sentencing memo.

The story in the Capital-Gazette by Phil Davis just discusses the letter that was sent by Ehrlich to the court and describes the details of it and the case.

Davis totally omits the whole point of the original blog post by William Cooke (and the one I wrote yesterday.) In addition to that, Davis gives no credit to Cooke, who uncovered the letter and the other documents from federal court records.

Ehrlich Story Not First Gaffe for Paper

This Ehrlich letter isn’t the first time the Capital Gazette has had trouble giving credit where it was due when a blogger was concerned.

During the 2014 Republican Primary for Anne Arundel County Executive, I  wrote a piece on an altercation involving then-candidate Steve Schuh with a staffer of then-County Executive Laura Neuman. Rema Rahman, who worked for the Capital Gazette then but works for Roll Call in DC now, wrote a story on the incident without giving credit to The Quinton Report. After I pointed that out in a follow-up and also corrected a misspelling of Schaffer’s name, her original story was updated to correct the spelling but stil failed to give credit.

I’m not surprised Cooke failed to get any credit in the Phil Davis story on the Ehrlich letter. I’m not really surprised Phil Davis missed the actual point of Cooke’s post either – that Ehrlich was called out in a federal court document for the contents of his letter supporting Simmons.

Other larger and more esteemed publications and broadcast outlets do a much better job than the local newspaper in Annapolis ever does in giving credit where it’s due to bloggers or other media platforms breaking stories that they then report on.

 

Bob Ehrlich called out by federal prosecutors

Bob EhrlichFormer Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, largely irrelevant in state politics after his prediction no Republican would ever be elected governor again was proven wrong in 2014, has brought himself to the attention of federal prosecutors in recent days in a less-than-positive manner.

William Cooke reports that Ehrlich wrote a long letter praising Wayne Simmons, a former Fox News commentator who pleaded guilty to a major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Much of the court proceedings centered on his impersonation of a CIA employee. Simmons is currently under house arrest awaiting his sentence later this week (July 15.)

The Washington Post noted:

In court, Simmons admitted he had lied on federal forms when he claimed he had not previously been convicted of a felony, had never filed for bankruptcy and had held a top-secret security clearance. He said he did so to help get a government job overseas.

[…]

Court records show Simmons faced tax liens totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And according to a recent filing from prosecutors, he “used his false claims of CIA affiliation to induce the IRS to abate approximately half a million dollars” in 2008.

In 2007, when he attacked a cabdriver in Annapolis, Simmons told the responding officers that he worked for the CIA and that the driver had a bomb, according to a police report.

Be sure to read the whole voluminous article linked above.

The letter from Ehrlich was sent on July 7, 2016 ahead of the sentencing in an attempt to help lessen the sentence that Simmons receives. He could receive as much as 40 years in prison.

In their sentencing memo, federal prosecutors detailed all of the crimes Simmons was guilty of and even took issues with Ehrlich’s letter; referring to the former governor by name (emphasis added):

“In light of the actual and potential harm the defendant’s crimes imposed on national security, the government is baffled by the uninformed commentary provided by the defendant’s prominent supporters. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 117-1 (letter of former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich describing the defendant as ‘patriotic’ and noting that ‘one would be hard pressed to find a person more dedicated to the security of the U.S.A.’).”

Here’s a screen capture from the memo itself:

ehrlich-simmons

Bob Ehrlich and Criminals

Ehrlich consultants Julius Henson and Paul Schurick were charged and convicted for a robocall in 2010 that was deemed to be in violation of state law and an attempt to depress turnout in majority black areas. That was Ehrlich’s second loss to former governor and failed presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. Ehrlich defended Schurick on the stand as a character witness in court.

In 1995, then-Congressman Ehrlich was criticized when he sent a letter to a federal court praising the character of convicted felon Bruce Bereano after he was convicted of mail fraud. Bereano, still a lobbyist in Annapolis, was convicted of “defrauding clients of more than $16,000 to make illegal campaign contributions.”

However, Ehrlich didn’t defend former administration official Robert Ballinger. Ballinger pleaded guilty and received probation for impersonating a federal officer. He pretended to be a Secret Service agent to withdraw money out of a bank account belonging to his father. Ballinger also claimed to be a congressional staffer, a former top official in the Maryland Republican Party, and a top staffer in the Ehrlich campaign. An Ehrlich spokesman denied he ever was on the campaign staff.

Beach Patrol captain in hot water over email

Beach PatrolWhile Rodney the Lifeguard (pictured at left) is just a fictional lifeguard from the Ocean City Beach Patrol used in a tourism advertising campaign, the real Beach Patrol is in the news now for what has become a hot-button issue in recent months.

The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday night that the Captain of the Beach Patrol, Butch Arbin, sent an email Sunday telling members of the Beach Patrol to use the locker room “that corresponds to your DNA.”

Arbin has been Captain for 20 years and a member of the beach patrol for 40. He is a teacher in Charles County during the school year and has been named Maryland Physical Education Teacher of the Year in the past.

More from the Sun on the email:

“We are not Target,” Melbourne “Butch” Arbin III wrote in an email Sunday to several dozen Beach Patrol members. “Males use the men’s locker room only! Females use the women’s locker room only!

“If you’re not sure,” he concluded, “go to Target.”

A city flack, who heard about the email from the reporter, called the comments “inappropriate” and not funny and said Arbin could face discipline, which is based on the decision of the Emergency Services Director. The director said that the comments were “insensitive” and “not a true reflection of [Arbin], our department or the Town of Ocean City.”

The emergency services manager also noted that Arbin had not intended to insult any individual or group with his words.

Arbin sent an email to his staff Monday apologizing for the original email that included these lines:

I used humor to make the point. However, this is not the same issue that has been in the news. The males that have used the Women’s locker room are not using out of necessity or because they are identifying as a woman, they are using it out of convenience.

Arbin also noted in the story from the Sun that his original email was sent after women members of the patrol had complained about men using the women’s locker room. He also noted that there are plenty of unisex restrooms available to patrol members and that there are no transgender employees. He noted that he was making a joke using the Target reference because toilet seats in women’s restrooms were being left in the raised position.

Arbin, who hadn’t heard any complaints, also said, “”I don’t care about being politically correct. That’s one of the problems in the country right now.”

He had no complaints against him according to the city’s flack and expressed surprise that anyone had passed it on without discussing it with him.

Beach Patrol captain’s email compared to Orlando massacre

Patrick Paschall, executive director of FreeState Equality Maryland, told the Sun that he and his staff had received a copy of the original message. He claimed the email violated Maryland discrimination laws and made fun of transgender people while contributing to hate and violence.

Paschall also attacked the email by invoking this weekend’s horrific massacre at a gay nightclub by a radical Islamist terrorist in Orlando that killed 49 and injured over 50 others:

“I don’t know how to express the level of anger,” he said, “especially in light of the massacre in Orlando.”

I wouldn’t be surprised with that heated rhetoric if they didn’t also go after Arbin’s teaching job in addition to the beach patrol one.

Baltimore may require warning labels on soda

BaltimoreBaltimore is trying to add to its street cred as an agent of the nanny state by possibly requiring warning labels to be placed on all sweetened drinks. A vote on the measure takes place Tuesday.

Additionally, the measure would require the warnings to be placed on advertisements, restauarant menus, and posted in stores selling sweetened drinks.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland supports the measure, which was proposed by City Councilman Nick Mosby before he abandoned his campaign for mayor.

Here’s what Robi Rawl of Sugar Free Kids Maryland told WBAL:

Rawl told Maryland’s News This Week that the labels would help consumers make informed choices about buying the beverages, warning people that over consumption of the drinks may cause obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

Opposition to the proposal includes the Maryland Retailers Association, the Restaurant AssItociation of Maryland, and the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Beverage association:

“At a time when Baltimore City is struggling to retain grocery stores and supermarkets this new mandate, which exists nowhere else in the nation, will have a chilling effect on attracting new merchants to the city,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “What proponents of this legislation cannot grasp is that the environment for retailers in the city is already fragile. It is shortsighted and takes the city in the wrong direction.”

Melvin Thompson, the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, was equally critical saying: “We are concerned that this proposed legislation goes too far and will not only deter the formation of new businesses, such as restaurants, but send a negative message that will discourage people from eating, shopping and enjoying Baltimore City.”

“Forcing restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines to carry misleading and inaccurate warning signs about popular beverages such as lemonades, sweet teas, fruit juices, fruit drinks, sports drinks and soft drinks misses an opportunity to teach and lead with a right message – lifestyle choices matter; new government bans, restrictions or for that matter “warning labels” for lemonade don’t,” said Ellen Valentino, executive vice president, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association.

“The beverage industry has developed a number of real solutions that are having an impact and we are making sure there are dozens of options for everyone. Maryland beverage makers recognize that all calories count and are committed to helping consumers be more mindful of the beverage choices they make.”

Baltimore Not Alone

Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sodas, and was shot down in court. DC tried to do the same and it never went anywhere. Mexico banned advertising for sodas and Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has proposed a tax on sugar by the teaspoon. Former County Executive Ken Ulman enacted a ban in Howard County that resulted in private vendors only being allowed to sell diet sodas at a 4th of July event. Thankfully, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman repealed that ban upon taking office.

It’s good to see that Baltimore City has solved all the problems associated with rampant violence and urban blight that have been long-term problems. Now that they’ve fixed those they can move forward on the important things, like requiring labels on drinks with sugar added.