When you live in a one-party state you get sort of numb to all sorts of shenanigans. Earlier in the year my RedMaryland colleague, Mark Newgent, exposed the efforts by the minions of our governor to bury a really bad employment report. They stonewalled him. But they misunderestimated his doggedness.
Promoted from the diaries by streiff.
Remember that pessimistic July employment report on the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s website? You know, the one DLLR and Governor O’Malley’s press secretary, Shaun Adamec tried to airbrush from history because it’s gloomy conclusions didn’t square with the rosy spin of O’Malley’s reelection campaign.
Well the O’Malley administration sure hopes you don’t remember because they weren’t exactly truthful about who knew what and when about it’s removal. According to documents from the Office of the Attorney General, the Director of the Governor’s office, and newly minted Executive Director of the Democratic Governor’s Association, Colm O’Comartun, Chief of Staff, Matthew Gallagher, and Deputy Chief of Staff, Ted Dallas were part of the O’Malley administration’s Friday evening scramble to cover it’s tracks and post a new—politically correct—report on DLLR’s website.
Shortly after MDGOP Communications Director, Ryan Mahoney caught DLLR with it’s pants down, I filed a Public Information Act request with the department to get all the relevant documents and communications pertaining the to the removal of the report. DLLR and the Attorney General’s Office response to my PIA request left a lot to be desired as they withheld many email communications, which they stated fell under executive privilege exemptions to the Public Information Act. Still, the documents they did release revealed the administrations Keystone Cops style cover up.
However, I requested an administrative law review to see if I could get the rest of the documents. Naturally DLLR and OAG fought me. I eventually withdrew my case, but not before OAG provided me with some interesting documents. OAG’s filing motion for a summary decision contains what is called a Vaughn Index of all the documents they withheld. The index (see pages 30-45) contains the senders, recipients, subject, and dates of all the emails withheld from my request. O’Comartun, Gallagher, and Dallas are all listed as recipients of emails on August 20, 2010 the night the administration raced to cover it’s rear end.
On page 12 of the document OAG admits that “deliberations involved the Secretary of the DLLR, his Director of Information, and several senior level staff in the Office of the Governor, including the Governor’s Press Secretary, his Chief of Staff, and Deputy Chief of Staff.”
To be sure, we don’t know the content of the emails as Martin Milhous O’Malley—alleged champion of open government—is hiding behind executive privilege. However, the sheer fact that O’Comartun—O’Malley’s closest aide—was included in the communications means that more than likely O’Malley was aware of the situation. This puts the lie to DLLR Secretary Alexander Sanchez’s claim that O’Malley had no involvement in the report’s removal and O’Malley’s own denial that he was aware of the negative jobs report.