BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Grand jury indictments are handed up in the Election Day robocall controversy. The calls were made during last fall’s gubernatorial election. After an eight-month investigation, two political operatives for the Ehrlich campaign are now facing criminal charges.

Derek Valcourt has  details on the indictments.

Political consultant Julius Henson and former Bob Ehrlich aide Paul Schurick are now criminally charged in connection with Election Day robocalls on behalf of the Ehrlich campaign.

The calls went to 112,000 registered voters in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County while the polls were still open.

“I’m calling to let everyone know that 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,” said the call.

In a WJZ interview that was later subpoenaed by the grand jury, Henson said his company Universal Elections authorized the calls in order to energize Ehrlich supporters.

“I’m on the Bob Ehrlich team. We thought a call like that would help, and we made the call,” said Henson.

He insisted former Governor Ehrlich had no knowledge of the robocalls. He acknowledged the calls should have included who was behind them but insists they were not intended to suppress votes.

“The law on voter fraud and voter suppression is clear, OK, it is in the statute,” Henson said. “And if you look at the statute and you look at the call, the wording of the call, there’s nothing in it that would suggest that. Nothing at all.”

But a grand jury disagreed, indicting Henson and Schurick on three counts of conspiracy to violate Maryland’s election laws, one count of attempting to suppress voter turnout, and one charge for failing to identify who was behind the robocall.

Schurick faces one additional charge of obstruction of justice.

“Even if they don’t wind up with jail time, they’re going to wind up with a criminal record assuming the prosecution can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said legal expert Byron Warnken.

If convicted on all counts, Henson faces up to 11 years in prison. Schurick faces up to 16 years in prison.

Attorney General Doug Gansler already filed a civil suit against Henson and his company, saying the robocalls he authorized violated the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act for failing to disclose who made the calls.

Political reporter Pat Warren has reaction from the candidates at the center of this campaign controversy.

Maryland voters were very much aware of the Ehrlich-O’Malley rematch, but they had no idea that the state would make a criminal case of the governor’s race.

Robocalls that essentially told voters to “Relax, the Democrats had the election in the bag,” have had shocking results for the orchestrators of the campaign.

“Julius Henson’s lawyer is going to argue it was free speech, and they weren’t doing anything coercive to these voters,” said Matthew Crenson, political analyst. “The other thing, somewhat surprising, is the indictment for Paul Schurick, who was Governor Ehrlich’s communications director for a long, long time.”

A swift, short reaction from Governor O’Malley’s office is this statement: “This is unfortunate. We are not going to comment further because this is an ongoing court matter and we will let justice run its course.”

Former Governor Ehrlich also issued a statement: “I believe in the rule of law. I believe in my friend and colleague, Paul Schurick. I hope a fair resolution is reached as quickly as possible for both Paul and Mr. Henson. ”

“Whether this prosecution is going to have any impact on these types of routines is questionable,” Crenson said.

Democrats in Maryland have long protested what they consider deceptive voter practices.

For example, a flyer was distributed in primarily black neighborhoods during the 2002 campaign, warning voters to make sure they had no outstanding warrants, tickets or back child support payments or they’d be arrested at the polls. Congressman Elijah Cummings was also pictured in a flyer distributed by Democrats for Ehrlich, which Cummings considered an attempt to deceive voters into thinking that he supported the Republican candidate years ago.

The robocalls in the 2010 campaign lit a fire this time– long before the grand jury indictments.

“The stakes in winning an election, particularly a statewide election, are pretty high,” Crenson said. “People are willing to take some risks to win the prize.”

And in another statement, the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party says these types of campaign tactics and dirty tricks have no place in America.

Stay with for complete coverage of the robocall indictment.

Comments (25)
  1. Doug says:

    As if politics was a game of
    holy men.

  2. Ken says:

    Great…more wasted tax payer dollars. That’s okay just raise taxes and fees or create a fee to pay for it. Stupid @ssholes.

  3. Glare says:

    If it’s not Robert Ehrlich then why not pay someone to take the fall!!! You people know that this couldn’t have been done without his knowledge..

  4. lynn says:

    thats true glare but he will not be named?

  5. Matthew Don Pablo Curtian says:

    No that Pub won’t be charged. He’s greased too many pockets to go to Jail for something he did.

  6. ShadowDancer says:

    Amazing that they cite fraud on the republican side, but neglect to mention the fact that in every election in Maryland, the dead vote democrat. Reminds me of Tammany Hall at right and vote often.

  7. Shame says:

    He knew what was going on, just another dirty political move by the good old boy club.

    1. anti liberal says:

      The good old boy club?? In Maryland that is known as the Culture of Corruption comprised of Democrats who have held us hostage for 40 years.

      No one ever investigates shady election practices by Democrats, because they won’t stand up against those in thier own party.

      Why all of the hubbub when we got stuck with douc_hebag O’Malley, anyway?

  8. Kathryn says:

    Republican or Democrat, a candidate should be held responsible for what his campaign does. Let Ehrlich do the time too and make it known politicians WILL be held accountable, regardless of party or office.

    1. anti liberal says:

      So what you are saying is O’Malley should be held responsible for all of his outright lies about not going to raise taxes (said in the debates), the falsified budget report in August that was reported where O’Malley squashed the original report?

      Or how about the “a fee is a tax” ads, or better yet, how about the ad with MPT footage that they made O’Malley pull, and yet he played it again right before the election? Shouldn’t he be held accountable?

      What bothers me the most is how WJZ called him the winner 2 minutes after polls closed – how would they know unless the election itself was rigged.

      Democrats in this state will not investigate other Democrats.

      In Maryland there is no such thing as “regardless of party”. It is a one party state.

      1. Kathryn says:

        I am talking about crimes they are CONVICTED of as determined by a court of law. Unfortunately almost all politicians lie, mislead & fail to keep campaign promises, but that is generally not a crime nor is having affairs & sending pictures of your privates and so on. I am not taking sides or speaking in favor of or against any particular candidate, I am just saying that they should be held accountable for somthing like this that is a crime that was committed and I don’t care what party they belong to. If you or I as a private citizens had done the same thing, we would be packing for prison.

      2. ANTI ANTI says:

        This proves Ehrlich and the Republican Party has no values or integrity regardless of the outcome in court.

        BTW……. WJZ’s call was right!

      3. anti liberal says:

        OK geniuses, first of all, where is the “voter suppresion”? The quoted call did not say “don’t vote”.

        Second of all, if someone were stupid enough to fall for that and did not vote because of that, then that is thier own fault for being an idiot.

        Kathryn, no one is convicted of anything. A trial awaits. But I spoke to what you said, the candidates should be held responsible for what his campaign does. So O’Malley manipulated MPT’s footage into a televised ad, taken out of context as claimed by MPT and MPT made O’Malley pull the ad (only for O’Malley to thumb his nose at MPT by replaying it right before the election. That is beyond simple lying, that is copyright infringement, isn’t that a crime. Not for the teflon leprechaun.

        ANTI ANTI, you and your liberal idiocy are livivg in a glass house. What integrity does O’Malley have for lying about raisng taxes and cutting spending? Lying is perfectly OK if it means electing Democrats?

        If they are guilty, that does not prove anything about the party itself.

        But stupidity is rampant with O’Malley’s sheeple, and you exemplify that.

        And yes, WJZ was right, but at 2 minutes after polls close? Something stinks there. Maybe you will get your head so far up your rear end that you will see light again someday.

  9. david says:

    Dems & Repubs alike are all liars. I personally think Bob Ehrlich is a schmuck & wife Kendall is the mouth from the south.

    1. O'MALLEY FOREVER says:

      BUT WBAL promotes this pair as if they were sent from heaven.

      BOYCOTT WBAL and all sponsors.

  10. outkasts says:

    A small state with so many problems

    1. Tripweaver says:

      A “small” state with respect to land mass, but containing one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, as well as one of the most densely populated regions. I guess “small” is relative, isn’t it. I suppose we could be “big,” like Texas, with hundreds of thousands of useless acres. Would that make us more important to you?

  11. JO JO DANCER says:

    A republican was caught committing a crime, OMG!!!

  12. SPACE RANGER says:

    All you right wing nuts should read “SAVING GENERAL WASHINGTON “ (THE RIGHT WING ASSAULT ON AMERICA’S FOUNDING PRINCIPLES) by J.R. NORTON. This book lay out what the Bush administration did to our country and put us in the mess we are in now.

  13. Prioniata says:

    What’s going on?

    I’m notably new to this site!!!

    I am just stopping by in this thread to say hello.. and eventually get to know all of you and definetely drop some knowledge!!!

  14. TJN72 says:

    Next time a robocall stating that KFC is handing out free chicken Thhat will empty the polls.

  15. Yvonne Brandon says:

    Good! These people on the right want to win at any cost!

  16. anti liberal says:

    If it comes out of MY pocket, its a tax

    A fee is a tax, a fee is a tax.

    I will not raise taxes.

    40 years of democratic control, less Erhlichs four years.

    Who again wants to win at any cost?

    Who has the stranglehold on power?

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