Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Two members of the Ehrlich campaign face a judge and decades in prison, accused of trying to keep African-American voters from the polls.
Now Julius Henson is speaking to WJZ for the first time since his indictment.
The two men are well-known in political circles. They want a jury to decide if their last-minute robocall to thousands of Democrats was targeted voter suppression.
Mike Hellgren has details of their not guilty pleas.
Henson is at the center of the scandal over whether robocalls he ordered tried to stop African-Americans from heading to the polls hours before they closed. He says this message was no dirty political trick.
“Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. We’re OK. Relax. Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight,” the robocall said.
“The state prosecutors and the attorney general of the United States should read the Constitution. The speech clause in the Constitution says that political speech is free,” Henson said.
Henson was working for former Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich’s campaign to unseat Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley.
“This is something by Ben Cardin and O’Malley just to punish people who disagree with what goes on in the Democratic party,” Henson said.
Another high-level campaign aide, Paul Schurick, who’s worked with Ehrlich for years, pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say he wanted to confuse and frustrate African-American Democrats.
“I am very comfortable in taking this case. I’m defending a person whom I believe to be absolutely innocent,” said Schurick’s lawyer, A. Dwight Pettit.
A grand jury indicted Schurick and Henson but not Ehrlich, who says he wants a fair and quick resolution for both men.
“No law was violated. Find it. Nothing in that call was not true,” Henson said.
The judge set the trial date for both Schurick and Henson for Sept. 22.