Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 24, 2014

Maryland: GOP Field Accuses Each Other of Dirty Tricks in Roscoe Bartlett Race

Maryland: GOP Field Accuses Each Other of Dirty Tricks in Roscoe Bartlett Race

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Few races this cycle have had as much drama as Maryland’s 6th district. And the day before Tuesday’s primaries, Republicans are occupied with accusing each other of pulling dirty tricks.

Someone posted online audio of two 911 calls from a 2008 domestic dispute involving Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s primary opponent, state Sen. David Brinkley.

The incident is widely known in Maryland and was covered in the local press at the time.

But the emergence of the actual audio of distressed phone calls from both Brinkley and his wife at the time, along with the intrigue of who did it, has fascinated both Republicans and Democrats watching this race.

While the audio surfaced online last week, it caught little notice until over the weekend, when a Twitter account that includes Bartlett’s publicity photo and a link to the campaign website tweeted links to the 911 calls. The account has no followers and had no tweets before Saturday.

It is not the official Bartlett campaign Twitter handle.

A similar YouTube account has also emerged with the 911 call audio, with a slightly different handle than the campaign’s official channel.

If the two forms of social media are not related to the campaign, as his team plainly states, they were created to appear so.

“The Bartlett campaign has not criticized David Brinkley’s personal life and has no role whatsoever in the release of the 911 tapes,” said a statement from the campaign. “If our campaign learns of any outside party responsible for the release of the tapes, we’ll be sure to provide that information. Congressman Bartlett’s focus is on the issues and his conservative leadership, not any other candidate’s personal life.”

Bartlett did, however, briefly bring up the Brinkley domestic dispute in a February interview with Roll Call.

Democrats have raised their eyebrows over the news. Their interest rests with the notion that if Bartlett was behind the news, such an overt opposition dump is a signal that Bartlett’s team is concerned about the primary.

Or, as the GOP field is crowded, the culprit might have been someone looking to paint a poor picture of both Brinkley and Bartlett.

The Brinkley campaign was not buying the Bartlett explanation.

“The Congressman’s denial might be believed if his campaign manager, Ted Dacey, hadn’t requested copies of the tapes last fall, just prior to Sen. Brinkley entering this race,” Brinkley spokesman Don Murphy said.

“One way or another, Bartlett’s days are numbered,” he added. “Should he manage to survive the primary with a majority of Republican voters dissatisfied with his performance in office, and his scorched-earth campaign, he will surely lose this seat to the Democratic nominee in November.”

“You can look at the public record, I did not request any tapes,” Dacey told Roll Call.

Also on the GOP side, as the political blog Maryland Juice first noted, Brinkley’s ex-wife, Sallie Brinkley, endorsed Bartlett on Facebook.

“If Republican values like family and integrity matter to you as they do to me, you will cast a vote for Roscoe this tuesday,” she wrote.

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