Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—She was the voice behind the controversial 2010 Election Night robocall. Now she’s the star witness in the case against her boss– the man who wrote the robocall–political consultant Julius Henson.
Derek Valcourt has more on the testimony of Rhonda Russell.
Russell testified she was following her boss’ orders when she recorded the robocall.
It was Russell’s voice heard by thousands of registered Democrats in a 2010 Election Night robocall, suggesting Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley was winning and there was no need to go vote.
“We’re OK. Relax,” the robocall said.
Russell told jurors what she told WJZ months ago– that the call was intended to be a form of reverse psychology meant to inspire votes for Republican Bob Ehrlich.
“That was the motivation by my boss Julius Henson. That’s what he told me and that’s what we are sticking to,” Russell said.
But prosecutors say that robocall was really intended to suppress voter turnout since it did not contain the legally required tag line identifying it was paid for by Ehrlich’s campaign.
On the stand Russell acknowledge knowing the robocall needed the tag line but said, “I asked Mr. Henson and Mr. Henson told me the client didn’t want the tag line.”
Speaking to WJZ, Henson also blames the Ehrlich campaign for the omission.
“I told them to put a tag on it. They refused. I sent the tag to someone else to get a second look. They still refused. So why am I responsible for a decision that was not mine to make?” Henson said.
Russell was forced to repeat what she told a grand jury about the robocall, that she “felt the Ehrlich campaign’s motivation was malicious.”
It is possible that Henson will take the stand in his own defense. But prosecutors are still calling their own witnesses to try to prove Henson and Ehrlich’s campaign manager conspired to commit election fraud.
Ehrlich’s campaign manager Paul Schurick has already been sentenced to home detention and community service for his role in the robocall scandal.