Tag: robert ehrlich

Robo-Call Convict Julius Henson Runs for Md. State Senate

Opening of the State of Maryland legislature Annapolis, Md
Maybe Henson could help these people relax.

For his connection with the infamous “relax” robo-call that apparently sought to discourage black voters from going to the polls in 2010, Julius Henson was fined $1 million, sent to jail for 60 days, and prohibited from political consulting. Henson found a workaround for that last bit; he’s running for office himself.

The aggressive and “indelicate” Henson hopes to represent Baltimore (specifically the 45th district) in the Maryland state Senate, and to do so he’ll have to unseat 20-year incumbent Nathaniel J. McFadden.

Henson Relies on “Counterintuitive” Defense in Robocall Trial


I’m not present at the trial of Julius Henson, a political consultant with Republican Robert Ehrlich’s 2010 campaign for governor, over the infamous “Relax” Election Day robocalls he is alleged to have authorized. But from my comfortable, removed vantage point the defense he’s built seems a bit at odds with itself.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Henson testified that the blame lies with Paul Schurick, Ehrlich’s campaign manager who has already been convicted on four counts related to the robocall whose apparent function was to suppress the black Democrat vote. When asked about a plan he wrote to keep black voters from the polls, Henson claimed this was ultimately based on Schurick’s ideas. And that he “tried to send them in another direction, but this is what [the campaign] wanted.”

Okay, fair enough. But how does that square with other parts of his testimony in which he asserts the robocall (which falsely reported that the voting was over and O’Malley had won) was a “counterintuitive” effort to encourage Republicans to get out to the polls?

And how does that hold up with the fact that the robocall was sent out to homes in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, two locations with high percentages of black and Democratic voters?

I guess it’s all just too counterintuitive for me to grasp.

Judge to Allow Conspiracy Defense in Henson Robocall Trial


The election-fraud trial of political consultant Julius Henson — who is in trouble over a robocall that went out on Election Day in 2010 apparently designed to keep black voters from going to the polls — is underway. And his attorney is planning to argue that Henson would not have been indicted had he not begun working for a Republican, namely Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

It’s kind of a difficult hypothetical, since it seems much more certain that he would not have authorized fraudulent robocalls intended to suppress the black vote had he not been working for a Republican.

Either way, the judge has decided to allow the it’s-a-conspiracy! defense to play out, so it ought to be a pretty interesting trial (I’m predicting a couple “No, you’re out of order!” moments).

Now, I have never been accused of possessing a prodigious legal mind, but it seems to me like a losing argument from the start. Will Henson’s attorney really be able to portray a vindictive Democratic conspiracy vast enough and insidious enough to overshadow — even nullify — what appears to be a clear-cut case of voter suppression?

Ehrlich Campaign Manager Convicted for Shouting "Relax" on Election Day


Paul Schurick, campaign manager to former Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., was found guilty on Tuesday of election fraud for his part in the “relax” robocall that went out to 112,000 homes on Election Day 2010.

As you may or may not recall, the robocall urged voters to “relax” because Governor Martin O’Malley and Barack Obama had already been “successful.” “The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight,” the automated message said.

Schurick’s attorney called the robocall protected “political speech” and the charges “unconstitutional,” in that they violated Schurick’s First Amendment rights. But of course, the right to free speech is not absolute. You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and you certainly can’t lie to voters in an attempt to keep them from the polls.

Schurick could face up to twelve years in prison for these convictions. Julius Henson, political consultant to the Ehrlich campaign and partner in the robocall plan, also faces charges. 

Roboscandal Round-up


Two political strategists could face up to five years in jail and 50 million dollars in fines for telling Maryland voters to “relax.” Julius Henson and Paul Schurick worked on Republican Robert L. Ehrlich’s failed 2010 bid for governor, Schurick as Ehrlich’s campaign manager and Henson as a political consultant. They have been charged with conspiracy to violate Maryland election laws, among other charges, for ordering deceptive robocalls to be sent to over 112,000 households on election day, targeting African-American Democrat populations with an automated message encouraging voters to “relax” because Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley had already won election. But of course these calls were made while the polls were still open.

Both Henson and Schurick claim they have violated no laws. Henson freely admits ordering the calls, but claims that they were not intended to suppress Democratic voters, but rather to encourage Ehrlich’s supporters to get out to the polls. Henson called the strategy “counterintuitive.” That’s certainly one word for it. It’s especially counterintuitive when you consider that, according to court papers, the phone numbers were culled from call lists for two recent Democratic campaigns Henson’s firms had worked for, and were unlikely to be the numbers of Ehrlich supporters. On top of that, according to the state prosecutor, an Ehrlich campaign document called “The Schurick Doctrine” declares its aim to be the promotion of “confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African-American Democrats.”

With a 2005 Maryland law expressly making it illegal to “willfully and knowingly influence or attempt to influence a voter’s decision whether to go to the polls to cast a vote through the use of force, fraud, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, reward, or offer of reward,” these charges could carry up to a five-year sentence. Henson and an associate are also facing a civil suit related to the calls. If found in violation, they could be fined 500 dollars per call, and remember: there were over 112,000 calls.