Brunswick City election turns dirty

By Ryan Miner 

A negative campaign mailer targeting Brunswick City Council candidate Eric Beasley was received last week by several Brunswick City residents. I earnestly debated with myself whether to share the attack mailer with A Miner Detail’s readership; however, given the mailer’s overwhelmingly dubious veracity, I made the decision to refrain from sharing the piece.

The negative mailer extrapolated unsubstantiated quotes from Mr. Beasley’s ex-wife, of which are listed in a sealed Howard County legal proceeding from 2011.

Earlier this year, Mr. Beasley wrote about his previous marriage in a series of postings found below:

In a live broadcast on A Miner Detail’s online radio program, Mr. Beasley discussed the details of his previous marriage.

You can listen to the Beasley podcast here.

The targeted Beasley mailer was first brought to my attention by a Brunswick City resident. Upon learning that the mailer had been sent to hundreds of Brunswick City voters, I spoke with Mr. Beasley and asked for a statement.

Subsequent our conversation, Beasley released the following detailed statement on his website:

Brunswick is better than this. Brunswick wants an election based on policy and positions, not slander and dark-money. I am personally calling on all the candidates for Council and Mayor to denounce this vile campaign tactic and keep this election about the issues.

To read Beasley’s full statement that is posted on his campaign website, click here.

I emailed several of the Brunswick City candidates asking for comment on the attack mailer. Below are the candidates’ submitted statements – verbatim:

Mayor Karin Tome:

Mr. Miner,

I’m focused on running for Mayor, but I’m disappointed that negative ads are being used in the Council race.  

Ginger Cayo:

Ryan-

I’m emailing the one and only statement or comment I’ll provide:

I found the mailing in bad taste, and urge the writer to use spellcheck next time. I strongly condemn the mailing and want no part of dirty politics. I am running to help our town, not be a politician. 

I also strongly condemn the use of outside money in all elections, but especially a municipal one; thats why I’m self funded and would urge all candidates to publicly disclose their donors prior to the election. 

Lets all focus on the issues facing Brunswick. 

As Mr. Rogers once said: 

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

Vaughn Ripley:

Mr. Miner,

I did receive the mailer. I must admit that it disgusted me. I am not sure what Mr. Beasley has done to warrant this type of malicious behavior, but I absolutely do not condone it, nor support it in any form or fashion. I do not personally know Mr. Beasley except a few quick meetings during the council debates and a town event. A local town election (or anywhere, quite frankly) is not a place for this type of mudslinging. I feel for Mr. Beasley and his family and would rather see candidates and voters getting along rather than resorting to tactics that take this nasty turn. To me, a campaign should follow a code of conduct and be based on honor and integrity. The town and citizens are what is important, and it is what I will remain focused on.

Brunswick’s City Charter does not require campaign materials to include a standard authority line. There is currently no Brunswick City ordinance that requires mayoral or City Council candidates, outside groups/PACS or individuals seeking to influence City elections to disclose who pays for a campaign mailer or other campaign-related materials.

No candidate, political group or PAC, or individual, as of this time, has come forward to claim responsibility for the negative mailer.

Several Facebook commenters suggested that state Senator Michael Hough may be the culprit. Hough has earned a formidable reputation in Frederick County and elsewhere for using negative mailers that target his political opponents. I reached out to Hough via Facebook Messanger to ask him whether he had any prior knowledge of the negative mailer; Sen. Hough has not responded to my inquiry.

However, a Brunswick resident commented on a social media thread regarding Hough, stating that he attended a Brunswick City campaign event hosted by the state senator at the Smoketown Brewing Company. At that event, the Brunswick resident wrote that he “just had a personal conversation with Senator Hough,” in which Hough claimed “that he had absolutely nothing to do with the publication, and wanted to make sure it was public knowledge that none of the other Council candidates had any knowledge of this or are in favor of these tactics towards Eric.”

As of this time, there is no evidence to suggest that the negative Beasley mailer was created or funded by Sen. Michael Hough. Instead, the evidence points in another direction.

The negative mailer’s only traceable clue in determining culpability is the permit number, as seen below:

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Earlier this year in May, perennial political candidate Robin Ficker, whose unsuccessful bids for public office and public acts of buffoonery as well as his brazen publicity stunts have earned him a sordid reputation as the “most hated man in Maryland politics,” claimed, in a Facebook message to Mr. Beasley, that he would be targeting him in the upcoming Brunswick City elections.

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After Ficker sent the Facebook message to Mr. Beasley’s inbox, I wrote this article.

During the 2016 6th Congressional District Republican primary, a primary which Ficker placed fourth out of eight, Ficker paid – according to his federal campaign finance reports – Heyman Mailing Service, Inc. over $22K for bulk mailing services.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 10.43.10 AM

Heyman Mailing Services, Inc., according to its website, is “a full service direct mail company located in Rockville, Maryland. We specialize in a wide range of direct mail and data processing services.”

The Ficker campaign mailers – pictured below – were bulk mailed by Heyman Mailing Services, Inc. and are registered to postal permit number 4297, the same postal number registered to the negative Brunswick mailer that was used to attack Eric Beasley.

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DC Homestead

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Via phone, I contacted John Tralka, the owner of Heyman Mailing Services, Inc. I inquired with Mr. Tralka whether he was aware of the negative mailer that targeted Mr. Beasley and asked who was responsible for its funding. Mr. Tralka firmly responded that he has “no comment.” Mr. Tralka immediately terminated the call. I have not attempted to reach out again to Mr. Tralka.

I called Robin Ficker’s cell phone on Friday morning. I announced myself and asked Ficker if he was responsible for funding the negative mailer targeting Mr. Beasley. Ficker laughed aloud and claimed he was with a client at the present time; he subsequently terminated our phone conversation. I have not called again Mr. Ficker with the same inquiry.

The facts show the negative mailer that targeted Beasley used the same bulk postage permit that Robin Ficker used earlier this year in his congressional campaign.

You can learn all about Robin Ficker by clicking here.

From reviewing the social media threads that followed the negative hit piece on Beasley, several Brunswick City residents have vigorously denounced the negative mailer.

I will update this story as I learn more.

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About Ryan
Ryan Miner is Editor in Chief, Founder and Publisher of AMinerDetail.com. Miner is the sole reporter and columnist at AMinerDetail.com, covering Maryland news, politics, business, education, national, state and local government. Miner is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.

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