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Former Impallaria aide convicted of election law violation for ’18 robocall

A former aide to Del. Richard K. Impallaria was convicted of violating election laws and sentenced to probation Tuesday for distributing a robocall without a proper authority line last year.

Tyler Walch, chief of staff to Impallaria, R-Baltimore and Harford, was convicted by Baltimore County District Court Judge Philip N. Tirabassi and received the maximum $1,000 fine, according to a news release from the Office of the State Prosecutor.

The call purported to be from a donor to the National Center for Transgender Equality asking individuals to support Del. Kathy Szeliga, a Republican delegate representing Harford and Baltimore counties, as “a true friend of the Transgender Community.”

The speaker praised Szeliga for supporting a 2016 bill prohibiting workplace discrimination based on gender identity. The call did not state whether it was authorized by any candidate or that Walch or the Friends of Rick Impallaria campaign were behind the call, according to the news release.

“This message not only failed to provide the information required by Maryland law, it attempted to deliberately deceive voters by providing misleading information,” State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said in a statement. “Maryland voters are entitled to know what person or group is responsible for such material, particularly when it is published and distributed one day before the Primary Election.”

Impallaria has denied any knowledge about the call and was not charged in connection with it.  Walch was dismissed by the legislature after the charges were made public in January.

Szeliga obtained the most votes in the June primary, 7,127, and Impallaria received 4,494. Along with Lauren Arikan, they were on the November ballot where they were elected to the three seats in House of Delegates District 7.

Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the NCTE, said in January no one with the organization was contacted by Impallaria or his campaign in connection with the call.

“It is outrageous to hear the delegate has so little faith in the support of his own constituents that he felt he could use transgender people as a political weapon,” Branstetter said. “Since it clearly did not help his campaign, the people of Maryland have proven they know better than to fall for such a cynical ploy.”

Walch was represented by Chaz Ball of Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner P.A. in Baltimore. Ball was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The case is State of Maryland v. Tyler Walch, 3C00471579.

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