Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's comments about how parents of daughters may respond differently to underage drinking drew a sharp rebuke Monday from a political rival.
Del. Heather Mizeur, like Gansler a Democrat from Montgomery County, issued a statement in response to The Baltimore Sun's report Sunday that Gansler said a parent's willingness to break up an underage party "also has to do with whether you have a boy or a girl.”
"I am deeply troubled that Attorney General Gansler appears to be saying that the safety of some children is more important than that of others, or that young girls need guidance and protection from their parents and other trusted adults that boys do not," Mizeur's statement said.
Gansler's campaign released a statement in response, saying that "some people are trying to twist Doug's words" and that the attorney general "believes that as parents we need to commit ourselves to preventing underage drinking for all of our children, boys and girls. Period."
A campaign spokesman said the attorney general does not dispute the accuracy of Gansler's comments published by The Sun.
Until Monday, Mizeur had declined to comment on controversies surrounding Gansler, including The Sun's reporting that Gansler stopped by a party of teenagers in June and said he did not have a moral responsibility to intervene, as well as reports by The Washington Post that Gansler ordered the troopers on his executive protection detail to speed.
Gansler has denied asking the troopers to speed and held a press conference to say that in hindsight, he should have done more when he stopped by the party.
Mizeur, who is running against Gansler in the Democratic gubernatorial contest, called for Gansler to clarify his remarks about gender published Sunday. Gansler made them last week during a two-hour interview with The Sun about the beach week party of recent high school graduates in South Bethany, Del. Gansler and other parents paid for and organized a week-long trip for a dozen boys, and Gansler said he was at the party only briefly to talk to his own teenage son, who was the DJ.
Mizeur's statement also said: "Adults have a responsibility to look out for kids regardless of gender. The dangers of underage and binge drinking have been well-documented, and for the Attorney General to suggest that it's only a problem for young women, as he appears to be doing, is tragically wrong and indicates that he doesn't understand the larger issues at stake here. "
Gansler, a two-term attorney general who has advocated against underage drinking, also worked as the Montgomery County state's attorney and a federal prosecutor.
Gansler's campaign spokesman Bob Wheelock responded with a statement that read in full: "Let's be crystal clear, because some people are trying to twist Doug's words. Doug believes that as parents we need to commit ourselves to preventing underage drinking for all of our children, boys and girls. Period. Doug has spent 21 years serving and protecting the children of Maryland from some of the worst criminals and abuses you can imagine and he is more than willing to put this record up against anyone running for governor."
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is also in the race for governor, declined to comment through a campaign spokesman.