Friday, February 28, 2014

The Kach Kampaign Goes Negative

Funny the things you stumble across on social media channels.

Last night, as I was futzing around on Facebook, I noticed the Todd Huff campaign in Baltimore County was promoting an upcoming fundraising event. I also noticed that Evelyn Kach, the wife of Huff's primary challenger, was quick to leave a comment.

Five minutes after it had been posted, the comment was gone. I guess it did not occur to Mrs. Kach that some troublemaking blogger might get a screenshot of it.


Anyway, here is a bigger version of her Facebook profile picture.

Someone should tell Mrs. Kach that her husband is running for county council, not delegate, and that perhaps a new picture is in order. Still, as is evident by the hubris that Team Kach has shown in co-mingling state and campaign resources, clearly they don't waste a lot of time sweating the details.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Kach Kampaign Does It Again

A few days ago, I blogged about the fact that Maryland Delegate Wade Kach, a forty-year veteran of the Maryland General Assembly now running for Baltimore County Council, sent out a campaign mailing in which he inappropriately offered his official state legislative email address as the response vehicle for a campaign questionnaire.

Well, Kach just sent out an email edition  of the same communication he snail mailed to voters earlier.

When you click on the email link, guess which email address comes up?

Clearly the man is either arrogant, clueless, or both. Sitting on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates and using a state-issued smartphone or laptop to field campaign inquiries is not what I would call doing the job he was elected, and reelected, to do.

Will someone who received either the mailed or emailed version of this communication contact the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics and report this outrageous behavior?


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Kach Kampaign's "No-No"

Recently, someone sent me a copy of a campaign mailer issued by veteran Baltimore County Delegate Wade Kach.

In the mailing, the forty year legislator announces that this will be his final session in Annapolis as he is “now a candidate for Baltimore County Council.”

He then opines that he has “grown increasingly distressed” by the county’s present leadership, and that he can “no longer stand to watch those entrusted with decisions affecting the livelihoods and health of thousands cavalierly presuming to know best.”

The mailing then segues into a “questionnaire” soliciting citizens’ thoughts on two issue areas which would seem to highlight perceived vulnerabilities of Kach’s primary challenger, incumbent Baltimore County Councilman Todd Huff.

Hey, I get it…politics is a full contact sport. Kach is free to employ such tactics, even though they seem to be a violation of his pledge not to run a negative campaign.

What he is not free to do, however, is to use state resources in the process.

In the mailer, Kach solicits feedback to these questions by email, and lists his official state delegate email address as a proper response vehicle.

That’s a no-no, folks.

The purpose of the mailing is clearly political and should, therefore, only have solicited feedback via campaign communications tools.  

One would think that Kach, an educator by profession first elected to the House of Delegates in 1974, would have learned this lesson a long time ago.

Kach’s use of his state email account for political purposes demonstrates the kind of arrogance we have come to expect from Annapolis politicians. It reflects a belief that firewalls aren’t necessary, that state and campaign resources are ultimately fungible when one’s own political ambitions are involved.

One wonders if he voluntarily crossed an ethical line, or lost his ability to see it was there a long time ago.

I’m curious to see if this mailing results in a complaint filed before the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. During my time working for Governor Ehrlich I can remember a few stories of legislators pinged for engaging in campaign activities via their state email accounts. Minimally, Kach should apologize for what was, at best, a major lapse in judgment on the part of his campaign.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ANT Revealed

So, I must admit…I’m on Facebook a lot. And I get a lot of questions from people based on some of my more cryptic posts.

The two most frequently asked questions are:

1) Who is this Felicite character you keep bantering with?

2) Who or what is “ANT”?

As for the first question, that’s probably best answered in a book rather than a blog post, other than to say she’s a lovable, wonderful, sometimes zany friend of mine. 

But I am now prepared to answer the second question.

I mean…not that it’s a state secret. As people have asked me I have told them…but you kind of have to have had some level of involvement in Maryland politics to fully get the joke. 

Anyway…drumroll please…

“ANT” is Aaron N. Tomarchio, departing chief of staff to Harford County Executive David Craig. Tomarchio, who has served in that capacity since 2006, is leaving to accept the position of Director of Corporate Affairs for Erickson Living.

I first met ANT when we served together during the Ehrlich Administration. Aaron was chief of staff to Maryland Planning Department Secretary Audrey Scott, a frequent subject of this blog.  

Tomarchio had all the qualities I have witnessed in every good chief of staff I’ve encountered in politics: efficiency, loyalty, diligence, and a penchant for balancing disparate personalities.

Tomarchio’s affability inspired me and another Ehrlich Administration chief of staff – David Marks, then at MDOT and now a Baltimore County Councilman – to speculate as to whether Aaron’s nice guy image masked a dark side. 

In a playful, tongue-in-cheek way, we wondered if, perhaps in some parallel universe, Aaron was in reality a feared, sinister political boss that ruled Harford County with an iron fist.

Think Ernst Blofeld meets Boss Tweed meets Vlad Tepes, and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.

I guess the concept was loosely inspired by a classic SNL sketch in which Phil Hartman portrayed Ronald Reagan as a secret micro-manager and mastermind, as opposed to the genial septuagenarian everyone remembers.

Anyway, our silly musings grew to the point that every time something bad happened – either in Harford County or globally – it was due to the machinations of “ANT.”

A car accident occurs in Joppa: ANT.

A freak weather event happens halfway across the world: ANT.

A space probe fails millions of miles away in space: ANT.

Someone’s cat turns up missing: ANT.

Marks and I had a lot of fun designing a back story around ANT’s sinister alter ego. For example, we speculated that, during the ANT regime, the HEAT Center in Aberdeen had become something akin to the “Ministry of Love” in 1984. We envisioned dozens of men in lab coats worked there, carrying out the will of the all-powerful ANT such as one would see in a James Bond film. 

Anyway, one has to have met Aaron to really get the joke. As for him, he was an exceptionally good sport about it, even as his dark mythology grew and more people keyed in on the joke. 

For the most part, that is.

Anyway, Tomarchio served County Executive Craig well, and I wish him the best in his new endeavor. 

That said, if I go missing tomorrow…you know who’s behind it.  

(I’m kidding).

Monday, February 10, 2014

John Lofton vs. Larry Hogan: Who's Bad?!?!

So, when I got home from the office, my Facebook feed was a-buzzin’ over an interview GOP gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan did with a guy named John Lofton.

Well, I’m not sure you can even call it an “interview,” as it consisted of one vaguely out-there question: “What do you think is the purpose of government?"

To me it sounds like a perfect essay question for a Political Science 101 final. Anyway, it seems that Hogan disagreed with its validity - and probably Lofton's as well. He called it “the craziest question I’ve ever heard” and cut the interview short.

So who is this John Lofton guy?

According to his Wikipedia page, he is a longtime conservative activist who worked at the RNC more than 40 years ago. He then served as a columnist for United Features Syndicate in the 1970s, then as a columnist for the Washington Times for seven years in the 1980s. Later he was an adviser to two presidential candidates: Pat Buchanan and some guy named Michael Petrouka.

I had heard of Lofton prior to this dustup with Hogan, but my knowledge of him was confined solely to an appearance he made on the now-infamous Morton Downey Jr. Show in the late 1980s.

In the episode, Downey hosted panelists with deeply held crackpot opinions. For example, one of Lofton’s fellow panelists patiently asserts why Ronald Reagan was definitely the anti-Christ.

Anyway, I guess the YouTube gods were with me tonight, as I found the actual episode. Lofton’s segment comprises approximately the first 12 minutes of this clip.

Lofton came armed with a folder full of research which he claimed demonstrates that Michael Jackson’s signature crotch-grabbing dance moves were a byproduct of a disease resulting from a tarantula bite.

One wonders why Lofton and his armload of research didn’t resurface at the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of unintentionally killing Jackson by administering to him a lethal dose of Propofol, a powerful anesthetic rarely used outside of an operating room setting.

Perhaps Jackson’s alleged earlier affliction – known as “tarantism”– played some as-yet undiscovered role in the singer’s death. 

Anyway, it seems that Lofton went through a phase in which he liked attacking pop icons. Here is a now famous encounter he had with musician and native Baltimorean Frank Zappa regarding the musical labeling controversy of the 1980s.

As for his encounter with Hogan, Lofton calls it “the shortest interview of my career.”

I’m not sure you can really even call it a “career”…but I digress.

Anyway, I’m not sure why Lofton is now interjecting himself in MDGOP politics, but I think we already have enough crackpots in Maryland political circles to go around.

But, if he wants to go back to his pop culture bashing roots and hate on Justin Bieber, I'm all for it.