Maryland State Police criticized Attorney General Doug Gansler Tuesday for calling the commander of the Executive Protection Section a "henchman'' of Gov. Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.
Gansler, who is running against Brown for the Democratic nomination for governor, said on WJLA-TV earlier in the day that reports saying he misused his security detail to get him to events are "100 percent completely untrue.''
Memos from the commander described the attorney general directing state troopers to bypass traffic jams by driving on the shoulder. In another case, police said Gansler insisted on driving himself, running red lights and using sirens. The memos, which were first reported by The Washington Post, became public the weekend before Gansler announced his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey, on Monday. Ivey appeared with Gansler on the program and questioned the timing of the release of the memo.
"They're running a campaign about dirty politics, dirty tricks, pulling out some memo that some, you know, henchman wrote two and three years ago and saying: 'Look, Gansler is misusing troopers somehow,'' Gansler said.
The state police responded by saying the reference to Lt. Charles Ardolini, the commander of the Executive Protection Section, is "baseless and inappropriate.'' State police noted that Ardolini has served in the Executive Protective Section for nearly 13 years, as a trooper providing protection, as a supervisor and as commander of the section for the last eight years.
"This reference to Lt. Charles Ardolini is unseemly and unacceptable,'' the state police said.
Ardolini's memorandum was the result of safety concerns expressed to him by his troopers over a period of time that culminated with actions witnessed by Ardolini himself, police said.
"The concern of Lt. Ardolini was solely focused on the safety of the protectee, his troopers, and the general public,'' said Lt. Col. William Pallozzi, Ardolini's supervisor. "His actions, which occurred two years ago, had absolutely nothing to do with any political motivation.''
Gansler, in a response to an article in The Washington Post, said a few of the 18 troopers who have provided him with protection "felt my backseat driving made them uncomfortable -- for that I apologize.''
Bob Wheelock, a spokesman for Gansler's campaign, said Tuesday after the state police response that Gansler had a very good relationship over the seven years they have protected him as attorney general and regrets any negative attention on the state police.
"Doug denies ever ordering any state trooper to do anything that was unsafe or illegal,'' Wheelock said.