A high-ranking official in Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is being charged with a crime in connection with trying to sabotage the re-election campaign of a state senator often at political odds with the Democratic governor.
The incident occurred May 10 when the campaign manager for state Sen. Jim Brochin spotted J. Ronald DeJuliis, the state’s commissioner of Labor and Industry, tearing down Brochin campaign yard signs.
DeJuliis’ wife, Connie DeJuliis, a former state delegate, is running against Brochin in a June 24 Democratic primary to represent a section of north Baltimore County.
DeJuliis and two campaign volunteers were charged with the misdemeanor charge of theft under $1,000, according to court records obtained by The Baltimore Sun and other news agencies.
Brochin, who is seeking a fourth term, has over the years voted against several issues put forth by O’Malley, a two-term governor who has close ties to Washington Democrats and appears to be eyeing a 2016 White House run.
Brochin has opposed several tax increases that O’Malley has proposed but has supported the governor’s legislation for gun-control and same-sex marriage.
Their back-and-forth political relationship can be traced to 2006 when Brochin effectively backed an effort for the state to take over 11 under-performing Baltimore City schools, when O’Malley was still the mayor.
Brochin campaign manager Marc Lazerow said he found DeJuliis and the two campaigners removing the signs from the grounds of an apartment complex.
Lazerow videotaped the incident. And DeJuliis returned the signs, which he had in the back of his pickup, when police arrived.
State Republicans are calling for DeJuliis’ resignation. O’Malley says he won’t take any action until the courts resolve the issue, according to a spokeswoman.
DeJuliis’ wife told The Sun that her husband had permission from the property owner to put up her signs and thought the four Brochin signs had been put there improperly.
She also called the incident a “misunderstanding’ and “much ado about nothing.” She said her husband is declining to comment.
Brochin told a local TV station: "It's straight out of middle school. The fact that my opponent is taking my signs down while I'm doing this rather than getting out to voters and talking to voters is a problem. I'm disappointed. It's sad.”