All the Facts Not Fit to Check

Two fact checkers—David Collins at WBAL TV and Kevin Robillard at TBD—are calling the Ehrlich campaign’s “Stalled” ad, accusing Martin O’Malley of covering up the scrubbing of the July employment situation report from the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation’s website, false.

If you examine the issue within the narrow parameters of a 30 second political ad, they’re criticism has some validity.

However, these “fact checks” do not look at all the available evidence, nor do they take into account that not all documents pertaining to this matter have been released. The Attorney General’s office is withholding documents arguing executive privilege and citing a statute that explicitly deals with “the governor and his immediate advisors.”

Let’s deal with what the fact checkers didn’t bother to mention.

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Neither of Kevin Robillard’s fact check and report on the matter, or Collins’ fact check ever mentions that Governor O’Malley’s press secretary, Shaun Adamec, was tracking DLLR’s efforts to scrub the report.

Robillard and Collins do not report on the email that shows Adamec telling DLLR communications Chief Bernie Kohn to “Drive to her house [DLLR webmaster Michelle Williams] if you have to. This is way overdue,” to ensure the politically correct report is posted to DLLR’s website.

If fact checkers are going to say Ehrlich’s claim that O’Malley covered up the report is false, shouldn’t they at the least account for the inconvenient fact that O’Malley’s own press secretary was in the thick of scrubbing the report?

At minimum this proves the governor’s office was involved in covering up the jobs report that didn’t square with the governor’s reelection campaign.

After all what does Kohn mean when he thanks Adamec for his “guidance in helping limit the damage.”

O’Malley himself need not give the order for his underlings to understand the need for the report to be tossed down the memory hole.

Yes the data wasn’t changed—until a revision in the statistic showed a rise in unemployment—but as the emails from earlier that week show the DLLR analyst and Kohn himself tried to curb the enthusiasm of O’Malley’s press office over what was indeed a pessimistic report. Yet they issued a rosy press release anyway then moved to airbrush the report from history after they got caught.

And to that point, if that jobs report was indeed an internal document erroneously posted, where is the report—with the approved talking points—DLLR intended to post?
The documents released by DLLR only reveal the scrubbed report and the politically correct report DLLR Secretary Sanchez and his staff scrambled to post late that Friday night.

Another question that should raise the eyebrows of the fact checkers—they are reporters right—is Sanchez’s request for Kohn to send him his Black Berry PIN. PIN to PIN communications are not subject to archiving for public record keeping. Meaning it’s almost impossible to obtain them through a public records request.

Are these reporters not the slightest bit interested in why cabinet level secretary would want to communicate with his staff in manner not subject to public scrutiny?

Lastly, the assistant attorney general attached to DLLR, Elizabeth Trimble is withholding several interagency and intra-agency emails because they “contain deliberations, advice, or recommendations from one government official to another for the purpose of assisting in the decision-making function, as well as certain confidential executive communications of an advisory or deliberative nature.”Trimble writes that release of these “pre-decisional documents” would “inhibit debate and discussion within the agency and would thus impair the integrity of the agency’s decision-making process.” She cites SG §10-618(b) and SG §10-615(1) as reasons for withholding the documents.

Maryland’s Public Information Act Manual states that SG §10-615(1) allows denial if disclosure would violate attorney-client privilege or grand jury secrecy, none of which are at issue here. Interestingly though the manual does note:

The Court of Appeals has stated that the executive privilege encompassed within SG §10-615(1) shields records made in connection with the deliberative decision-making process used by high executive officials such as the Governor
and the Governor’s immediate advisors
[emphasis mine].

At Red Maryland, we’re all for fact checking, and we even understand there will be different interpretations of the facts.

We just ask that the fact checkers check ALL the facts.

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