Government Law

State AG backtracks, says he should have investigated whether there was underage drinking at party

Maryland’s attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler, opposes underage drinking and has urged parents to take responsibility to prevent it.

But when it came to a high school graduation party attended by his own son, held in a beach house in Delaware, the AG felt it wasn’t his job to serve as an enforcer, reports the Baltimore Sun.

“Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party,” he told the newspaper. “How is that relevant to me? … The question is, do I have any moral authority over other people’s children at beach week in another state? I say no.”

Gansler, who is a Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, insisted that his own son was not drinking and said he himself was at the party only briefly, after leaving a Maryland Bar Association event, to talk with his son about their plans for making a visit the next day to a college in Pennsylvania. Gansler said he did not know whether anyone else was drinking alcohol from what news reports describe as red plastic cups used at the party.

“Was I supposed to serve as the police officer? No.” he said, pointing out that the South Bethany rental where the party was held was in a different state than the one in which he serves as its top legal officer.

Following public criticism over his reported comments, however, Gansler said Thursday that he may have made a mistake by not investigating whether underage drinking was going on at the party when he stopped by, the Baltimore Sun reported in a follow-up article.

“Perhaps I should have assumed there was drinking in the home, and I got that wrong,” Gansler said.

Some teens have admitted drinking there, the newspaper says, and a photograph published with the article shows Gansler seemingly taking a photo with his cellphone of teens dancing at a lively, well-attended senior-week event.

Multiple parents, including Gansler, chipped in to fund the party for their sons, which was held at a rented six-bedroom home, the Sun reports, and a list of rules was developed in advance. They included prohibitions against having girls in bedrooms with the doors closed and drinking “hard alcohol.”

Gansler said he was not involved in drafting the rules, but attended an advance meeting at which they were discussed with teens who planned to attend. He also was not one of the assigned chaperones.

Hat tip: Daily Mail

Related article: “Did state AG order troopers to speed and use sirens as they drove him to appointments? He denies it”

Headline updated at 3 p.m.

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