October 24th, 2013
04:26 PM ET
9 months ago

Maryland AG admits mistake at teenage party

Washington (CNN) - Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said Thursday he should have done more to investigate alleged underage drinking at a high school beach party this summer.

Gansler, a Democrat who is running for governor in 2014, admitted that not doing more was a mistake, but said that “regret” might be too strong a term to describe how he was feeling.

“Maybe in this case, I should have done something differently,” Gansler said at a press conference. I “probably should have” tried to “investigate whether there was drinking going on, and then taken action on that.”

Gansler told reporters that he only spent a few minutes at the June 2012 party, where “there may have been some college students or others drinking beer.” Gansler was forced to address the controversy after the Baltimore Sun published a story about his presence at the party, including a photograph of him in the crowd.

He went there, Gansler said, in order to tell his 19-year old son about what time their family would be leaving the beach the next morning.

Gansler’s son was in South Bethany, Delaware, according to the attorney general, for “beach week” – a celebratory week after high school graduation where students rent beach houses.

The attorney general said he stopped by the party after a work dinner but said “there was no sort of drinking in my face.”

“I was there as a parent,” Gansler said, noting that he isn’t Delaware’s chief law enforcement officer. “There were chaperones there. I figured they probably had it under control. To the extent there was anything going on that was bad, I didn’t see any.”

He continued: “Perhaps should I have gone around the house and looked. Or asked the chaperones whether there was any underage drinking going on. You know, we all make those judgments. We make them at the time.”

Gansler said his son was not drinking at the party. At various times throughout the press conference, he tried to distance himself from responsibility.

“I wasn't the chaperon. I didn't buy the beer or anything like that,” he said. “I showed up, talked to my son, and left.”

Advocates against underage substance abuse have criticized Gansler for not doing more to stop the party, telling CNN the fact that he was there solely as a parent doesn’t absolve him from responsibility.

“Every parent has a moral obligation to protect our children, whether it's their children or other children,” Michael Gimbel, former director of Baltimore County’s Office of Substance Abuse told CNN.

“If you walk into a party where there's underage drinking, and wild behavior because of drinking, whether you're a regular parent or whether you’re the attorney general of the state of Maryland, you have an obligation to protect our children, to stop them from hurting themselves.”

Gimbel continued: “I would think he has a responsibility, a moral responsibility, if nothing else. But the fact that he was observing illegal behavior and condoning it, I think was wrong.”

The party, according to the Sun, occurred in a rental home. After the party, according to minutes from a South Bethany Town Council Meeting, “there was about $50,000 worth of damage done to the house.”

Julie Barnes, who cleaned the house after the rental, told the Sun that the damage included “wooden floors rippled from moisture damage, dents that appeared to be made from high heels on the bar and pool table, and floors sticky from what smelled like beer.”

At a town meeting, local police said that damage occurred due to “criminal mischief.” At his press conference, Gansler rejected the idea that the damage came from the party.

“I didn’t stay in the house. I didn’t check out of the house,” Gansler said. “But when the parents that were chaperoning checked out of the house on the Friday morning… the house was totally clean, totally clear, no damage whatsoever. … Later on, that night, there were actually vandals that came into the house apparently and caused an enormous amount of damage.”

As attorney general, Gansler has been an outspoken critic of underage drinking and has filmed public service announcements about the issue.

“Parents, you're the leading influence on your teen's decision not to drink,” Gansler said during an ad for The Century Council, a group that fights against underage drinking. “It's never too early to talk with your kids about smart ways to say no.”

Gansler said on Thursday that filming such ads while not doing more at the beach party was not hypocritical.

Earlier this year, Gansler declared he was running to succeed Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. The Democrat is considered a strong candidate by most political watchers and has posted strong fundraising numbers so far – with nearly $5.2 million in the bank and over $1 million raised in 2013.

– CNN’s Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell contributed to this report.


Filed under: Maryland
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. just asking

    if democrats don't believe in enforcing the laws of this nation, why do they demand more and more of them??? what is the point???

    October 24, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  2. Raggedyann123

    Oh big deal! What was he supposed to do? He saw no drinking. He wasn't called in to "investigate" .. the party had chaperones that he assumed had the party under control. It looked like the party was under control .. and he was there as a parent, looking for his son, found his son .. relayed the message he wanted to relay and left. This is such a non-story!

    October 24, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    -just asking

    if democrats don't believe in enforcing the laws of this nation, why do they demand more and more of them??? what is the point???
    *************
    Well, was the cost of the party 24 Billion? How did you feel about then-Governor Sanford, who cost the people of his state while he was out hiking something in Argentina?

    October 24, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Donna

    As attorney general, Gansler has been an outspoken critic of underage drinking and has filmed public service announcements about the issue.
    ---

    What grown up, let alone the top law enforcement person in a state government, stands around and watches under age kids get drunk and does and says nothing? This idiot obviously cannot be trusted. Can you imagine the repercussions had something happened to one of those kids?! Guys like this fool are the LAST person you need in government office!

    What IS IT with the Democrats lately?!! Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Jesse Jackson Jr, Bob Filner, Kwame Kilpatrick... Perverts, criminals, crooks, thieves and now this idiot, totally out to lunch. Has the Democrat Party raided the psych wards and jails for candidates?

    October 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Classic Dem political mistake of being a spineless dillhole who caves and apologizes for doing nothing wrong once the GOP/Teatroll ridiculousness is helped along by the MSM.

    As far as the GOP and MSM are concerned:

    Parents chaperoning a party where teenagers WHO BELONG TO THEM are allowed to have some drinks while being monitored is apparently far FAR worse than a Senate candidate (Chris McDaniels in Mississippi) pandering to neo-confederate groups that demand secession and think the Civil War is an ongoing fight.

    Where's your reports on him, CNN?

    October 24, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. just asking

    The Real Tom Paine
    -just asking

    if democrats don't believe in enforcing the laws of this nation, why do they demand more and more of them??? what is the point???
    *************
    Well, was the cost of the party 24 Billion? How did you feel about then-Governor Sanford, who cost the people of his state while he was out hiking something in Argentina?
    ---

    what does your nonsense response have to do with my question??? why continue to to pass laws about everything in sight if you have no intention of enforcing them? immigration, drug enforcement, etc. please address this and refrain from the usual smoke and mirror response.

    October 24, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Lmao

    I don't see what the big deal is about... The people that are trying to start crap just don't like him and just trying to fling dirt. I can garentee every person has been in one place, party or event and illegal activities took place without your knowledge. I guess you should be hounded by the media and possibly lose your job aswell.

    October 24, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Yes, Obviously....

    Sniffit
    Classic Dem political mistake of being a spineless dillhole who caves and apologizes for doing nothing wrong once the GOP/Teatroll ridiculousness is helped along by the MSM.
    --

    Yes, we know. Democrats never do anything wrong. Even when they are caught lying about their misdeeds. Democrats Party, the party of It-Is-Somebody-Elses-Fault.

    October 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. wendel

    If it where the repos they would have joined in then called a hearing to investigate the AG. We will hear from the hipos for sure

    October 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. rs

    Yes, we know. Democrats never do anything wrong. Even when they are caught lying about their misdeeds. Democrats Party, the party of It-Is-Somebody-Elses-Fault.
    ___________________________
    Big words from the side of the aisle trying to forget about their little illegal attempted coup d'tat don'tcha think?

    October 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Pander Bear

    Wait?! Drinking at a high school party? How could that be? Surely none of the morally righteous posters on this board ever did that. Right? Anyone? Bueller?

    October 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. rs

    What IS IT with the Democrats lately?!! Elliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Jesse Jackson Jr, Bob Filner, Kwame Kilpatrick... Perverts, criminals, crooks, thieves and now this idiot, totally out to lunch. Has the Democrat Party raided the psych wards and jails for candidates?
    ___________________
    Don't be juvenile Donna. I can parade off the classic list of Republican pervs just as well (Gingrich, Vitter, Sanford, Cuccinelli, etc...). Yeah, this guy blew it- but that doesn't give you fiat to make any moral claims- especially after the goose egg your guys laid last week.

    October 24, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    Just sayin' or just askin or whatever troll this was....
    "why continue to to pass laws about everything in sight if you have no intention of enforcing them?"

    It isn't the Democrats wanting to pass law after law allowing the government to crawl up in women's vah jay jays... oh, you said with no intention of enforcing them. My bad...
    We know the righties- the 'party of small government' has every intention of trying to have a little 'government intrusion' there, don't we? Gimme' a break you hy pocrite te abagg er.

    October 24, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He continued: “Perhaps should I have gone around the house and looked. Or asked the chaperones whether there was any underage drinking going on
    -------------------------------------------------
    So it turns out that he was NOT a chaperone at this event.
    Why is this even a story?
    The man stopped by to tell his son to be home by 11 (joke), wtf was he supposed to do when he did not see anything untoward going on in front of him?

    Costco is having a sale on "LIVES" this weekend. May I suggest that some of you go out and get one.

    October 24, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. ALLuh

    Really, he's going to single handedly stop teen drinking? What a crock

    October 24, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. TracyIndependent

    Wander how many girls were RAPED that night as they 'passed out'! Great job you CREEP!

    October 24, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. t3chn0ph0b3

    So... Required credentials for AG include psychic ability now? Give it a rest, people.

    October 24, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. C'mon, really?

    He's not a cop, and what was he supposed to do, start ordering everybody to produce ID? And what kind of flack would he be catching from any adults present if he'd tried to do that? "I got yer ID right here, buddy!"

    October 24, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  19. iceload9

    For a politician if he's just a hypocrite, he's a keeper.

    October 24, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  20. BEV

    What does him being a Democrat have to do with any of this? I have stopped by parties attended by my teenage children that appeared supervised and under control only to have them come home and tell me "Wow, that party got out of hand so we left." I am not naive. I drink and know what drinking looks like and was still fooled by the "chaperones" who apparently wanted to be cool with the kids and the kids who were very good at hiding their behavior. If there were adults there who were supposed to be in charge and they say there was no damage when they checked out, why is this guy under scrutiny and not them?

    October 24, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. Jeff

    I do not like Gansler, but I agree that this is a non-story. He is Maryland's AG; the party was in Delaware. It was chaperoned. His son was not drinking. He's allowed time to just be a dad, and need not conduct ID searches at every out-of-state party that his son attends.

    October 24, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  22. Bob

    Teenagers drink? WHAT. A. SHOCK. Seriously, this faux outrage by his GOP opponents is pretty laughable. It's just like in Casablanca when the chief of police says "I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find gambling going on in here." then immediately a dealer comes up to him and says "Your winnings, sir" and hands him his money to which he replies "Thank you very much!".

    October 24, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. Leo

    This is dumb, he is the AG not a cop.

    October 24, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Vidal demonti

    BS, he was there as a parent not enforcer of rules. Leave him alone, he has no reason to look around and investigate. the Repubs are of course making a big deal out if it. I will vote for him and definitely not for a Republican moron.

    October 24, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. dave

    I'M glad i went to high school in the early 90s when we had parties the worst that would happen was the cops would come by and say "just keep it down" and leave. I am a republican but they are going to bash this guy just because he saw his 19 year old son drinking a beer with his peers from high school?

    October 24, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
1 2 3