Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. this week denied claims from veteran political consultant Julius Henson that Miller was influencing a violation of probation case against Henson.
"It's not true," Miller said after learning of Henson's statements to reporters at a news conference. "I don't know Julius Henson. I don't think he and I have ever talked. Absolutely not. We've never talked. I wouldn't know a thing about his district, or him. I don't know who is probation agent is -- I don't even know who his judge is. I'm not involved in the case at all."
Henson, an East Baltimore Democrat, on Thursday formally filed to run for a Maryland Senate seat even though the state says that may violate the terms of his probation. Henson, 64, has vowed to “retire” longtime Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, whom he plans to challenge in the June 24 Democratic primary.
Henson is serving three years probation stemming from his conviction in a high-profile election-fraud case. As part of the sentence, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Emanuel Brown ordered that Henson “shall not work in any political campaign paid/volunteer during probation.”
Henson said he learned from reporters that he’s been summoned to court for a Feb. 27 violation-of-probation hearing.
He responded to the summons by telling television and print journalists that he planned to continue to run. Henson said he believed Miller, a McFadden supporter, was behind the summons, and wanted him to serve jail time.
"This is a political issue," Henson said. "Miller said he would do anything and everything to help McFadden and that includes not having me here to campaign every day."
At issue is whether Henson is prohibited from running for office or only from working on another candidate’s campaign. Henson’s probation agent alerted the court of the potential violation after learning that Henson was planning to run for state Senate.
Henson was convicted in May 2012 of conspiracy to violate election laws by not including an authority line on a “robocall,” made as part of Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s 2010 campaign to return to office. Ehrlich lost the election to the incumbent, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The call targeted Democratic voters in Baltimore and Prince George's County and said they could “relax,” suggesting that O'Malley had won. In fact, no one knew the results because the polls were still open.
Henson served a month in jail before being released on probation. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler brought a civil case against him, and a federal judge ordered Henson to pay $1 million in fines.
Henson has maintained that the judge’s order applies to “work” as a political consultant, not his own campaign.