Shameless Thy Name is Brinkley
As predicted, the Republican primary in State Senate District 4 has been rough and tumble. The Red Maryland endorsed challenger Delegate Michael Hough has hit the incumbent State Senator David Brinkley hard on his voting record. After Brinkley raised the issue of Delegate Hough’s ethics, this blog pointed out that Senator Brinkley may not want to engage in that comparison. Our post led to an ethics complaint being filed against Senator Brinkley.
Few though, particularly those who have so ardently defended Senator Brinkley, would have predicted just how negative a campaign the sitting minority leader would engage in against his Republican challenger. He falsely accused Delegate Hough of supporting the “Rain Tax” because he voted with his GOP colleagues against O’Malley’s Budget Reconciliation and Funding Act (“BRFA”). Then Senator Brinkley falsely charged that Delegate Hough voted to “put hardened criminals on the street”, a scurrilous attack so egregious that Sentator Brinkley’s colleague Senator Chris Shank broke ranks to endorse Delegate Hough and express his outrage and disgust.
Senator Brinkley’s campaign has been almost exclusively negative, personal and beyond the pale.
So now, having taken the gloves off and expecting something in kind in response, Senator Brinkley has engaged in one of the most shameful series of acts I have ever seen in Maryland GOP primary politics. Having thrown the stones of decency, morality and ethics at Delegate Hough, the good Senator seems all too aware of the glass house in which he resides.
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In a cynical attempt to prevent his own despicable behavior from being used against him, Senator Brinkley had his daughter send the following email (an email she copied directly to two editors of this blog):
My name is Margaret Brinkley, daughter of Senator Brinkley, and I am
writing you as a constituent and child of a fellow legislator. We
all know the race for District 4 is heating up with the election only
weeks away and, while I’m sure this is cause for nerves in everybody,
it has made me particularly anxious.
As you know, six years ago my parents separated and things were said
and recorded. There’s no easy way of saying this, so I have to ask
straightforward that neither you, Delegates Hough and Afzali, nor
anybody you know or are affiliated with release the 911 tapes that
have become so popular as ammunition against my dad in these races.
To political opponents I’m sure these tapes are a perfect tool, a time
bomb waiting to be released so you can seal the deal on an election.
For me, though, they are a constant reminder of something our family
has spent the last six years healing and moving on from.
Delegates, I know you both have children and are willing to protect
them at all costs. I ask that you extend the same compassion towards
my brother and me. I know politics can be a nasty business but we
have to draw the line somewhere. Releasing tapes or documents that
once again make us children relive the past is far beyond that line.
When the separation and 911 call first happened it was hard enough
being in the house. I thought school would be my sanctuary from the
issues we faced as a family; surely I could throw myself into
schoolwork and athletics, right? Apparently not. Because news of the
event had reached reporters and the news I was bombarded with
questions all day: “your dad beats your mom?!” (Of course not) “I
thought you came from a good family…” (Every family has issues) “What
the f*** is wrong with your family” (Nothing, I thought, but thanks)
and so forth. Please take a moment and imagine your children having
to answer these questions at 16, again at 18, and worrying about them
coming out once more. Getting used to the new family dynamic, going
through my parents’ separation and divorce, would have been so much
easier if I didn’t have to face the public digging through our private
lives every few years.
Political races are certainly high-stakes and the stress everyone
involved in goes through can take its toll. Worrying that I will have
to once again endure these questions has made me physically ill on
more than one occasion, something I ask you to consider if you ever
think of releasing the tapes and documents. I am Senator Brinkley’s
child, no different than the children you love so dearly. If you
cannot find the compassion for a child of another legislator, perhaps
you can find some for one of your constituents—for I am one of those
as well. All I ask is that you keep the focus of the race on
politics, not on something so painful to our family.
There are a number of amazing things about this. Ms. Brinkley seems to acknowledge that there is a lot more than just some 911 tape that is out there to be used against her father.
Moreover, Ms. Brinkley assumes that Delegate Hough and Delegate Afzali (who was also copied) ever disclosed this material or ever even contemplated doing so. Both are false as demonstrated by Delegate Afzali’s sincere and heartfelt response:
Thanks so much for your email and your thoughts. I have been happy to see you in the past and to see that you have grown to a lovely young woman. Your willingness to protect yourself and your family is understood and greatly appreciated. I have pictures of you playing the piano in my home and I always look at them fondly.
There is some information that you may not know that I am hoping to inform you of here. Firstly, the 911 tapes were NEVER released by myself or Michael Hough. Someone from within your family released the tapes for spite and your father knows this information and has acknowledged this fact.
Next, your dad knows without a doubt that neither Michael nor I had any involvement in releasing those tapes. If the tapes are released again it will not come from us.
I hope that the person who released the tapes in the past doesn’t do it in this election, as Mike and I want to focus on the issues and not your family.
I sincerely wish you well and hope that you can try to ignore politics for the next couple of weeks and enjoy your summer.