Baltimore mayor denounces infidelity rumors
BALTIMORE – Mayor Martin O’Malley on Wednesday denounced rumors of infidelity spread on the Internet by a longtime aide to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, saying he was the target of an “orchestrated campaign,” as his wife described the effect that the stories were having on their young children.”These are despicable lies. These are falsehoods,” said O’Malley, a Democrat who is thinking about running for governor in 2006 and is considered a rising star in his party. “I have always been faithful to my wife from our first date until this date.”One day earlier, O’Malley, 42, had accused the Republican governor’s administration of spreading the rumors, prompting Ehrlich to force out the longtime employee, who had discussed the rumors on a popular conservative Web site.Also on Tuesday, at a news conference in Washington, O’Malley likened the cuts in President Bush’s budget proposal for urban areas to the Sept. 11 attacks, drawing fire from his fellow Democrats as well as Republicans.O’Malley said he and his wife, Catherine, have known about the rumors for about 18 months, thinking “it was a falsehood that would blow through.” According to the rumor, O’Malley supposedly fathered a child with a television news reporter and separated from his wife, who is a state district court judge and the daughter of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran.”It became pretty apparent that this was something sustained, something orchestrated, something relentless and something that others were working very hard to make sure it would not go away,” O’Malley said.Catherine O’Malley described the effect the stories were having on their four children, who are between the ages of 14 and 2, saying 7-year-old William had insisted last week that both parents sign his report card.She said William told her: “‘If daddy doesn’t sign it, then they’re going to think that we’re in a divorce,’ and I just looked at him and my heart broke.”O’Malley aides said after the news conference that the mayor and his wife would like an apology from Ehrlich, who has said he didn’t have anything to do with spreading the rumors.Ehrlich asked for the resignation of Joseph Steffen, who confirmed Tuesday that he had discussed the rumor on the conservative Web site FreeRepublic.com and in private e-mails, which were given to The Washington Post.Steffen, a spokesman for the Maryland Insurance Administration and who has held a series of jobs in Ehrlich’s administration, told The (Baltimore) Sun the governor didn’t know about his actions. “If anyone is guilty, it is me. There was no outside influence.”O’Malley was among a group of mayors and other local officials who held a news conference Tuesday in Washington to criticize the president’s proposal to cut spending for community development programs by $2 billion.”Back on September 11, terrorists attacked our metropolitan cores, two of America’s great cities. They did that because they knew that was where they could do the most damage and weaken us the most,” O’Malley said. “Years later, we are given a budget proposal by our commander in chief, the president of the United States. And with a budget ax, he is attacking America’s cities. He is attacking our metropolitan core.”O’Malley told The Washington Post he didn’t intend to equate the proposed budget cuts to a terrorist attack.”The point I am trying to make is, for America to be strong, we have to strengthen our cities. Because we’re in the middle of a war, we need to be strengthening and protecting our cities, not weakening our cities,” he said.O’Malley has been tapped by party leaders on several occasions to speak out on behalf of cities. He was a keynote speaker at the Democratic convention in Boston last year and was an early and open critic of the level of the Bush administration’s assistance to cities for homeland security.
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