UPDATED (5:22 p.m.)—A political action committee that endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for Maryland governor is demanding an apology from a Democratic opponent over comments made about Brown’s service in Iraq.
Attorney General Doug Gansler told a gathering of the Tech Council of Maryland in Bethesda that Brown’s leadership skills were questionable after being asked a question about what could be learned from the roll out of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.
“I’m running against somebody who has never managed anybody, never run anything,” Gansler said. “You know, his ads are about how he was a lawyer in Iraq and that’s all fine and good but this is a real job. We need to have somebody who actually has leadership experience and done budgets.”
Gansler went on to contrast his work as both Montgomery County state’s attorney and his current position with Brown’s resume.
“The reason why that is so important is that the one thing he did, it was a debacle,” Gansler said, referring to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange website.
Brown, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, was deployed in 2004 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as a senior consultant to the Iraqi government.
A spokesman for the Brown campaign was not immediately available. Per the rules, Gansler and the other candidates were allowed to speak for 15 minutes without the other candidates being present in the room.
Jon Soltz, chair of VoteVets.org, a political action committee that endorsed Brown for governor, called the statement “slime ball politics.”
“Doug Gansler needs to stop smearing those of us who served in Iraq as not having had a ‘real job,'” Soltz said in a statement. “It’s a horrible insult to all those men and women who put their lives on the line, and especially those who died, in service to this country. Additionally, Mr. Gansler, if he chooses to attack an Iraq War veteran, ought to at least admit that the person he is attacking has been serving as Maryland’s lieutenant governor. This kind of slime ball politics is what turns people off to our democratic process, so Mr. Gansler is doing no favors for Maryland or our democratic electoral system by playing in the gutter like this.”
Soltz went on to demand an apology from Gansler.
In an emailed statement late Monday afternoon, Gansler said: “I want to clarify comments I made in the middle of a forum today about Maryland’s failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act and Lt. Gov. Brown’s leadership. I have the utmost respect for his military service and for veterans. The point I was trying to make is that Anthony Brown’s only attempt to lead as lieutenant governor was the unmitigated debacle of the health exchange website that denied Marylanders access to health care and cost taxpayers nearly $200 million.”