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Cardin copter photo raises eyebrows

UPDATED (5:03 p.m.)—A photo featuring Del. Jon S. Cardin, the leading Democratic candidate for attorney general, is raising eyebrows  just a day before the Primary Election.

The photo featuring the Baltimore County Democrat was part of a series of pictures posted on Cardin’s Facebook account. Cardin could be seen posing with two Prince George’s County Police Department aviation officers and a police helicopter. The campaign removed it about an hour after it was posted to the social media site.

The photo appeared Sunday as part of an album that included photos that appear to be taken on Saturday at Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr.’s picnic event and a separate gathering sponsored by Del. Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s.

Julie Parker, a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Police Department, said the helicopter was at an annual District 26 community event at the request of Walker.

“We do a lot of these kinds events,” Parker said, adding that many departments use events to do community outreach and build relationships.

A spokesman for the campaign referred questions to Cardin and scheduled a phone interview. Cardin was not available at the scheduled time and did not return a message. The campaign spokesman later said a statement would be issued.

Cardin in a separate interview late Monday afternoon with another reporter from The Daily Record, declined to comment.

The photo with the Prince George’s County helicopter comes days before the June 24 Democratic Primary Election at a time when Cardin’s opponents are hammering the delegate on his use of a Baltimore City Police Department helicopter and marine unit in a 2009 marriage proposal stunt.

The misuse of police resources by Cardin issue is a centerpiece in campaign ads paid for by Cardin’s opponents.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, D-Montgomery, has referenced the issue and a political action committee has raised $150,000 to produce a video and mailings that specifically target Cardin on the use of police resources.

Cardin apologized for the use of the public resources saying he hoped it would not define his political career. He reimbursed the department $300 for the use of the helicopter and marine unit and wrote a separate check in an undisclosed amount to the department’s mounted police unit.

But the issue has not died.

Earlier this year, Sen. Lisa A. Gladden introduced and then withdrew a bill that would have set sanctions for elected officials who misuse police resources. Gladden said at the time that the bill was in reaction to the Cardin marriage proposal.