Saturday, July 16, 2016

Tobaccoland tipped off local Annapolis paper about Wayne Simmons/Ehrlich story

Last Sunday, I was reviewing online court records on Pacer.gov for new information about the Wayne Simmons case when I found an extraordinary letter from former Maryland governor, Bob Ehrlich, that heralded the conman's alleged virtues, especially his patriotism. I wrote about this in my blog post titled "Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich helps convicted conman". I pointed out that the Federal prosecutors in the case were "baffled" by Ehrlich's letter and his "uninformed commentary."

Jeff Quinton, a fellow blogger, wrote a post on his site titled "Bob Ehrlich called out by federal prosecutors". Quinton linked back to my original article in his post.

Given the significance of the story, I emailed a local paper here in Annapolis that many often refer to as "The Crapital" given the fact that it is prone to both sensationalism and factual inaccuracies. The local paper published an article titled "Former Gov. Ehrlich vouches for Fox News guest from Annapolis who admitted to defrauding the government". The article made no mention of me or this blog. Giving credit is typically called "hat tipping". Also, the article made no mention of the fact that the federal prosecutors called out the former governor.

Jeff Quinton took issue with this and followed up with another post titled "Paper ignores DOJ criticism of Bob Ehrlich". Quinton has had issues in the past with this local paper not giving him credit for articles.

The local paper does deserve credit for interviewing Ehrlich, who essentially said that he didn't know Wayne Simmons that well. The story was picked up by The Baltimore Sun and caught the attention of the federal prosecutors who followed up with a motion the day before sentencing, that stated, in part:
The United States of America, by and through undersigned counsel, hereby responds to the defendant’s filing of letters for consideration by the Court (Dkt. Nos. 112, 115, 117, 122) to raise the concern that the letters of support for the defendant may, in some respects, be unreliable and incomplete.

For example, former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich submitted a letter stating that he has “had occasion to get to know [the defendant] on a personal and professional basis” and has found him to be “above all patriotic,” and that “one would be hard pressed to find a person more dedicated to the security of the U.S.A.” Dkt. No. 117-1. The Baltimore Sun newspaper interviewed Governor Ehrlich with respect to this letter, and in a story published earlier this week (attached hereto as Exhibit A), reported that Governor Ehrlich stated he had met the defendant through his neighbors and had only had brief interactions with him. According to the Baltimore Sun, “[w]hen asked about any specific anecdotes [the Governor] had about Simmons where he exhibited the qualities he wrote about in the letter, he said ‘I couldn't provide (any) . . . I don’t have that kind of relationship (with Simmons).”
At his sentencing on July 15, 2016, Simmons received 33 months, which was close to what the Federal government recommended. The local paper followed up with an article where the writer finally made mention of the remarks from the federal prosecutors.

I sent an email to the writer for the local paper to ask him why credit was not given to this blog. He responded, in part, "I appreciate the tip, but you must realize that we must treat blogs as we do regular tips we receive over the phone or through email. In that we must independently verify the validity of the claim and then report on it as we would any other story. We only cite sources when aggregating information from other news sites and organizations, not when acting on tips."

I took the time to follow this case and to write about interesting aspects of it. No one else reported on the Ehrlich letter before me. I spotted it and sent them a decent story. I don't know what their problem is with giving credit to blogs, others do it, including The Wall Street Journal. It's not that big of a deal to me, because this blog is an occasional hobby. But others are out there trying to make names for themselves and they want and deserve credit for finding stories first.

Related:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich helps convicted conman

As many of you know, I have been following and writing about the case of Wayne Simmons, a convicted conman and career criminal, who has been masquerading around for over a decade as a former CIA operative.

Wayne recently pleaded guilty in Federal Court to defrauding the US Government and one of his personal friends. He is currently on house arrest (in a house that is under foreclosure) pending sentencing on July 15. Many of his friends and family members have been writing letters to the judge to ask for leniency. I was shocked today to see that on last Thursday, the former governor of Maryland, Bob Ehrlich, wrote this letter in support of Wayne:

   
The Federal government in its sentencing memorandum commented on this letter by writing, "In light of the actual and potential harm the defendant’s crimes imposed on national security, the government is baffled by the uninformed commentary provided by the defendant’s prominent supporters. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 117-1 (letter of former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich describing the defendant as 'patriotic' and noting that 'one would be hard pressed to find a person more dedicated to the security of the U.S.A.')."  

This unfortunately comes on the heels of Mr. Ehrlich's endorsement of Don Quinn, in the 2014 Maryland State Senate Republican Primary. Mr. Quinn ran a bizarre campaign and was exposed as having lied about his educational background. He later switched to the Democrat Party. It is a shame that the former governor doesn't better vet those who he supports.
  
See related:


Frederick Douglass's Birthplace Sign

If you have ever driven from Ocean City, Maryland, you have likely seen on Route 50 a sign near Easton telling you that Frederick Douglass's birthplace is 9 miles away to your right. If you are like me, you wondered what you would see if you took that turn, but never made it. A few weeks ago, I decided to see what was down that road and nine miles later, I found this sign:


I'm guessing from the language ("Negro Patriot") that the sign was put up more than a few years ago. There is nothing else of note to see there and according to The Eastern Shore Guide website, it isn't even at the right location.

I've saved you the trouble in case the next time you are on Rt 50 and are tempted to take that detour.