State Sen. Brian Frosh questioned Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin's fitness to be attorney general Friday, citing the endorsement of his Democratic primary rival by a local rapper facing human-trafficking charges.
"At least one of my opponents lacks the rudimentary judgment required for holding the office of attorney general," Frosh told The Baltimore Sun's editorial board during a previously scheduled meeting.
"Can you imagine the attorney general of Maryland putting his arm around a guy and saying, 'I'm proud to have his endorsement,' not knowing this person has just been charged with 22 counts of human trafficking and prostitution, facing 190 years in jail?" the Montgomery County Democrat said.
Frosh, Cardin and Del. Aisha Braveboy of Prince George's County are running for the Democratic Party's nomination for attorney general.
On Thursday, Cardin rejected the endorsement of a Baltimore-based rapper after learning that the man who calls himself Ski Money is accused of working with an 18-year-old woman to operate a prostitution ring.
Cardin said he knew nothing of the rapper's charges and criminal record when he posed for a picture with Lawrence S. Christian, 37, at a fundraiser and his campaign briefly publicized the rapper's support.
Campaign aides said they have returned a $100 campaign contribution given by Christian.
Cardin's campaign manager, Andy Carton, said the candidate did nothing wrong.
"These comments represent a new low in Brian Frosh's increasingly desperate smear campaign," Carton said. "When someone approaches me and asks to take a picture, I don't ask them about their criminal record first."
Cardin posed for a photo with Christian at a fundraiser in Baltimore this week hosted by well-known former entertainment lawyer Paul Gardner.
Gardner represented White House state dinner crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi, as well as actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson of "The Wire," but was disbarred last year after Maryland's highest court found that he had overbilled clients and misused money given to him as a retainer.
The Cardin campaign publicized the endorsement, calling Christian "my new friend," but later took down the message, saying Cardin was unaware of Christian's record.
In court papers, Baltimore County investigators allege Christian's operation pimped out prostitutes at hotels in Windsor Mill, Catonsville and Pikesville. Christian's attorney, Richard M. Karceski, has said he believes his client is innocent.
Christian has been convicted of other crimes in the past, including conspiracy to distribute drugs. He is scheduled to appear in court for trial June 17.
Cardin previously faced criticism for missing nearly 75 percent of his committee votes this year and for misusing Baltimore police resources during a stunt wedding proposal to his wife. He has said the measure of character is not whether one makes mistakes but how one responds to them.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.
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