Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous declared during a press conference on Wednesday that he wouldn't take a meeting with a lobbyist who's been convicted of fraud, corruption, or a related crime, only to be asked why his campaign placed multiple calls to a lobbyist who was convicted of fraud.
"I won't take meeting with any registered lobbyist with a criminal history related to fraud, corruption, or any other lobbying related crime. I'm honestly at a loss why [incumbent Gov.] Larry Hogan has asked people like Gerry Evans and Bruce Bearano to raise money for him," Jealous said.
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A reporter followed up to ask about calls his campaign made to Gerard Evans, who was convicted in 2000 of 11 counts of mail and wire fraud and sentenced to 30 months in prison.
"This morning Gerry Evans released a voicemail that he says is a phone call from you in which you ask for a meeting and ask for help getting out the message for the campaign. How does that not contradict the statement you just made?" a reporter asked.
"That call was made in error. We have a vetting process. If any check had ever come in from him, we would have returned it," Jealous said.
"[Evans] says there were at least 4 or 5 other calls … Were those also in error?" the reporter asked
"That was– Absolutely." Jealous responded, after a pause.
Jealous then refused to answer the same reporter's questions about what kind of support he wanted to ask from Evans. He insisted the call was the same call made to many others and that it was made "in error."
This is not the first time Jealous has sparred with a reporter. As the Free Beacon previously reported, when Washington Post reporter Erin Cox asked Jealous if he identified with the term socialist, he responded "Are you fucking kidding me?"
"Not to point too fine a point on it, but do you identify with the term socialist?" Cox asked.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Jealous asked, laughing mirthlessly. "Is that a fine point? OK."
Jealous' running mate Susie Turnbull took the microphone shortly after and said Jealous was trying to run a "positive campaign." Jealous is the former president of the NAACP and has never held elected office.
Jealous is running on a stridently progressive platform and has the endorsement of democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).
"Go ahead, call me a socialist," Jealous said, when asked earlier this summer if he was so liberal he'd help Republicans win. "That doesn’t change the fact I’m a venture capitalist."
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's campaign said the exchange was indicative of Jealous' "inept campaign."
"Jealous’ awkward handling of this self-inflicted controversy was a new rock bottom for Jealous’ embarrassingly inept campaign," said Scott Sloofman, Hogan's communications director.