ANNAPOLIS — Former Gov. Parris N. Glendening Wednesday endorsed Attorney General hopeful Stuart O. Simms, as Simms revived a complaint about a Court of Appeals reprimand of Douglas F. Gansler, his opponent in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Glendening, who appointed Simms secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services in 1995, formally endorsed him at a press conference outside the State House in Annapolis.
“[Simms] is not only a leader, but a person who truly cares about integrity,” Glendening said.
Glendening pointed to Simms’ Harvard education and experience in his administration as qualifications. He compared Simms’ philosophy to that of retiring Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, describing them both as “absolutely solid.”
In 1997, Glendening appointed Simms secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which has about 12,000 employees. He held that position until 2003.
Glendening has kept a low profile since leaving office in 2005, advocating for environmental issues. But last month he broke a three-year political silence by endorsing U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume.
Glendening said he chose Simms over Gansler partially because he is personally familiar with Simms’ record.
“I know Stu Simms, and I know his commitment to the environment,” Glendening said.
“He knows I’m not a potted plant either,” Simms added.
After receiving Glendening’s endorsement, Simms drew attention to a complaint about Gansler’s November 2003 reprimand by the Maryland Court of Appeals.
The court unanimously ruled that Gansler violated conduct rules by discussing a murder for hire case with the news media even though the information was public.
Gansler is the first state’s attorney to be charged with violating the conduct rules for statements made outside a courtroom.
Unapologetic, Gansler at the time chalked the charge up to partisan politics and said he disagreed with the ruling.
Simms called for Gansler to retract his statement and pledge to “follow the rule of law if he were elected.”
The issue was previously raised in debates, but Simms said this is his first call for a formal retraction.
Gansler’s spokesman, Mike Morrill, said Gansler did not break the law. He said Gansler maintains the charges were politically motivated because he was in an argument with two of the judges at the time.
“[Simms] is mischaracterizing what was said in those debates,” Morrill said. “It’s beneath the dignity and extremely disappointing for someone running for attorney general to mischaracterize [the ruling.]” Gansler still disagrees with the ruling, but “you can disagree with rules and still live by them,” Morrill pointed out.