O’Malley’s Jobs Report Cover Up Part 2

“drive to her house if you have to this is way overdue.”
Shaun Adamec, Press Secretary to Governor O’Malley

In Part 1, we saw the evolution of a crisis in the O’Malley administration, now we will see how DLLR with an assist from the governor’s press office worked to cover their tracks.

August 20, 5:13 PM Kohn emails Sanchez informing him that, DLLR Information Technology Director, Richard Pragel assures him that “Michele’s action earlier eliminates all ability to find the posting through search engines.”

5:20 Adamec emails Kohn requesting he follow up with Washington Post reporter Aaron Davis’ inquiry about the missing report.

5:23 PM Kohn forwards an email from Baltimore Sun reporter Jamie Smith Hopkins asking if there was a different press release on the site than the one he received at 10 AM. Smith’s email contains the MDGOP’s press release an hour earlier exposing the missing report. Kohn writes to Sanchez “Oh my.”

Trending: Red Maryland Radio #445: January 30, 2020

6:05 PM Adamec asks Kohn “What media are you hearing from? Do we know how/why it was posted? What’s the analyst’s explanation? How did the Ehrlich camp get it? Were they the first to broadcast it or had you heard from press first? [Emphasis mine]

6:20 PM Williams forwards to Kohn, Yeisley’s confirmation that the original July Employment Situation report is “checked and good.”

6:33 PM Kohn emails Adamec detailing how the report was posted. Kohn writes that he cannot tell Adamec how Yeisley “believed that these discussion points were fit for dissemination given the tone of our discussion, which made clear that we would emphasize private sector job growth with some cautionary notes about slowing in the pace of growth. I cannot say how the Ehrlich camp got it, the first I heard of the posting was when Secretary Sanchez emailed me at about 3 p.m. after it was pointed out to him and Jackie Lichter by Secretary Johansson. The Ehrlich campaign’s release to the media on this issue came about two hours later.”

This is the second email Kohn refers to the “discussion” about vetting the raw data and talking points. There is no way of verifying Kohn’s depiction of the “tone” of the discussion because we don’t have any corroborating documents. The PIA response letter from Assistant Attorney General Trimble describes any such documents as “pre-decisional” and release of any such documents would “inhibit debate and discussion within the agency and would this impair thus impair the integrity of the agency’s decision making process.” However, the documents that were released already question the integrity of the agency’s decision making process, and it is very much in the public interest to have the documents her office withheld released.

6:44 PM Kohn orders Williams to post a new report on the DLLR website. “Thanks—Next Step please post the TABLES ONLY from that file, no prose at all.

6:53 PM Kohn emails Williams writing “Disregard last… new instructions.” Immediately after that Kohn asks her to call him.

6:57 PM Kohn emails Sanchez and Eric Seleznow, Executive Director of the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board with the new information to be posted to the DLLR website.

7:08 PM Kohn is still looking to contact Williams. Under the subject line “we need to post revised version of Employment Situation now!” Kohn writes “PLEASE call me…Secretary is on standby waiting for confirmation that this is being done.”

7:13 PM Kohn emails Williams with the revised versions including edited bullet points different from the original report posted earlier that morning.

7:29 PM Sanchez emails Williams and Pragel “I need to speak to you immediately please call my cell…”

7:42 PM Adamec emails Kohn with two personal cell phone numbers for “Frank.”

There are no other mentions of “Frank” in the released documents. Perhaps Adamec is referring to the Governor’s Press Office, Creative Director Frank Perrelli?

7:45 PM Kohn emails Adamec and Sanchez informing them he reached Pragel and that Williams went home for the evening and that only she can repost the file.

7:46 PM Pragel informs Sanchez that Kohn has reached Williams and that she can “put up the corrected web page from home. It should be up shortly.”

7:48 PM Adamec tells Kohn and Sanchez to “drive to her [Williams] house if you have to this is way overdue.” [Emphasis mine]

7:51 PM Kohn informs Adamec and Sanchez that Williams is working on posting the corrected web page and that it would be on all DLLR servers in 45 minutes.

8:44 PM Kohn informs Sanchez the revised post is posted to the website.

8:49 PM Pragel notifies Sanchez and Kohn that “All of the DLLR sites contain the corrected information.”

8:56 PM Kohn issues press release explaining that the original posting to the DLLR website was “made in error.”

9:03 PM Kohn emails Williams and Pragel thanking them for their “scramble… to put up the desired version of the July Employment Situation. Your work helped minimize the impact of a very difficult situation.

9:06 PM Kohn emails Adaemc notifying him that he sent a statement to the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun reporters who inquired about the missing report. Kohn also thanked Adamec for his “guidance in helping limit the damage.” [Emphasis mine]

The next day August 21 at 11: 01 AM Kohn informs Adamec that Sanchez talked to Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz, who had inquired to Kohn if he could “directly respond to the GOP accusation that the governor was involved in the removal of the report.” Adamec wrote back to Kohn “clearly that wasn’t the case so just tell her what happened.”

These documents alone reveal the involvement of the governor’s office and other high ranking executives in the O’Malley administration. They reveal a worried press secretary, Shaun Adamec, tracking DLLR officials making sure the report was removed from the agency website and a new more politically correct version posted in it’s place.

Political factors—the gubernatorial campaign—clearly weighed on the those involved as evidenced by Adamec’s inquiry as to how the Ehrlich campaign obtained the scrubbed employment report, and Jaclyn Lichter’s forwarding the Ehrlich press release to DLLR communications director, Bernie Kohn.

While there are many questions left to be answered one thing is for sure. The O’Malley administration was less than truthful with us about the employment situation in Maryland, and they spent a great deal of time and effort to cover it up.

Perhaps the principals involved in this matter should have read the email signature of DLLR Office of Workforce Information and Performance Director, Carolyn Mitchell:

“Integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody is looking.”

You can read all the documents here.

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