A chief of staff to former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich (R) was found guilty on Tuesday on four counts, including election fraud, for his role in setting up robocalls intended to surpress minority voting turnout in the final hours of Election Day last year.
Paul Schurick’s trial took place in Baltimore Circuit Court, where he was brought up on charges of conspiracy, election fraud and a charge relating to his failure to include a disclosure on the robocall that it was authorized by the campaign. He had been indicted by state prosecutors alongside Julius Henson in June.The Baltimore Sun reports:
Schurick declined to comment on the verdict. His attorney, A. Dwight Pettit, called himself “disappointed” and vowed to appeal the verdict on First Amendment grounds that the call was protected, political speech.
“The attempt for the state to regulate political speech is unconstitutional,” he said.
Schurick and his defense team had portrayed the robocall as a mistake, and used prominent politicians from both parties to vouch for his character.
“We made a faux pas,” defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit said in his closing statement Monday. “That’s not criminal. That’s evidence of somebody who made a political misjudgment, a political faux pas, a political mistake.”
Schurick was allegedly presented with “The Schurick Doctrine,” a plan “designed to promote confusion, emotionalism, and frustration among African-American Democrats,” a blueprint he claims to have rejected.
“The first and foremost desired outcome [of the Schurick Doctrine strategy] is voter suppression,” the document allegedly stated.
[Correction: Schurick was not accused the author of the “Schurick Doctrine,” rather he claims he rejected the proposal when it was presented to him.]