With election season upon us, Maryland officials are offering a reminder that dirty tricks are not forgotten. Two men are facing charges in connection with a 2014 robocall during an Anne Arundel County election, which targeted an openly gay candidate.
According to the State Prosecutor, Republican political consultants Dennis Fusaro and Stephen Waters were behind the call. At the time, it was seen as an effort to galvanize anti-gay voters against Patrick Armstrong when he was running for Anne Arundel County Council.
The robocall, which was set to 5,000 people, sarcastically urged voters to thank Armstrong for his “bravery in coming out of the closet.” It stated that Armstrong supported a bill saying transgendered people “can now openly and freely go into any bathroom of their choice based on their confused gender identity.”
The State Prosecutor’s office said information in the call was meant to “deliberately deceive by providing false and misleading information.” The call was also illegal because it did not identify who was behind it, and was placed from an untraceable burner phone purchased in Virginia. It said the call was made by “Marylanders for Transgenders,” which is a made-up organization.
Armstrong lost the race to Republican Michael Peroutka. Fusaro was Peroutka’s campaign manager, but Peroutka has denied knowledge of the call.
Below is the full text of the call, via the State Prosecutor:
Hello, what a great opportunity for the LGBT community. We have a true believer for our cause in Patrick Armstrong who’s running for County Council in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Call Patrick today and thank him for his bravery in coming out of the closet. Coming out of the closet and supporting the Fairness to All Marylanders Act, the Maryland State Senate Bill 212, and supporting the rights for all transgenders. Transgenders can now openly and freely go into any bathroom of their choice based on their confused gender identity. Tell Patrick to continue to stand loud and proud in support for transgenders’ equal rights. While our opponent argued that children could be at risk by sexual predators with this new law, we celebrate the rights of transgenders and what this does for equality for transgenders in Maryland. Call him today at 410–[redacted] and thank him for supporting the bathroom bill. Paid for and authorized by Marylanders for Transgenders.
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