Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The man who ran Bob Ehrlich’s campaign will not go to jail for his role in the 2010 Election Night robocall controversy. That’s the decision from a Baltimore judge Thursday morning at the sentencing for Paul Schurick.
Derek Valcourt has Schurick’s reaction and more on the punishment he faces.
Paul Schurick admits he authorized those Election Night robocalls, and for that a judge says he’ll spend one month in home detention.
“It was in fact a profound personal failure,” Schurick said after sentencing.
For the first time, the Ehrlich campaign manager spoke out about the Election Night robocall that he says cost him his career, put his family through hell and publicly humiliated him.
“Regret yeah. I just walked out of a courtroom. You’re damn right I have a sense of regret. It was a mistake. It was the wrong decision. We live with the consequences,” he said.
A jury agreed the robocalls to 112,000 registered Democrats in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County amounted to voter suppression because the call hinted Bob Ehrlich’s opponent Gov. O’ Malley had already won and there was no need to go vote.
Schurick approved the call.
“Because I believed there were several thousand African-American supporters of Bob Ehrlich who had not yet voted that day and that a message — as counter-intuitive as it seems in hindsight — that a message such as that would in fact motivate them to go to the polls if they had not already done so,” Schurick said.
But judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill strongly criticized Schurick as he sentenced him to a month of home detention.
“Any professional campaign person hearing the text of that call should have said ‘no,’” Fletcher-Hill said. “It’s deceptive. It’s illegal. You shouldn’t do it. “
The state prosecutor agrees.
“This type of behavior is more than just a dirty trick or politics as usual. It is illegal,” said Emmet Davitt, state prosecutor.
Schurick insists his prosecution will impact future elections.
“Trust me, political professionals in Maryland are now very, very aware of the outcome of this trial and the consequences,” Schurick said.
The judge also gave Schurick 500 hours of community service. He’ll have to split that: 250 hours in Baltimore City, 250 in Prince George’s County. He will be on probation for four years. A fine was not imposed.
Schurick had faced up to 12 years in prison.
Campaign consultant Julius Henson also faces trial later this month. He wrote the robocall and is accused of conspiring with Schurick to suppress voter turnout.