The state employee who mistakenly included me on an email this week in which she advised a spokeswoman to “refrain from discussing [the delayed Grand Prix contract] with the Sun,” has responded to my request for clarification.

Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Hahn, who represents the Maryland Stadium Authority, wrote in an email that she was not asking the spokeswoman to “conceal” information, but wished to prevent her from speaking to me until “complete and accurate information” could be obtained.

In the email sent to a Stadium Authority spokeswoman, Hahn wrote that the contract between Downforce Racing LLC and the authority had not been finalized because the private company had not turned in a signed copy.  The delay in finalizing the contract, which the city had required by March 15, could “present some PR problems” for the company, Hahn wrote.

Hahn explained in her follow-up email that she did not want to share “information that, at the time, remained incomplete for reasons beyond our control.”

However, the question remains: Why didn’t Hahn advise the spokeswoman to inform us of the complex and nuanced situation, rather than instructing her to “give the Sun no information”?

The complete text of her email follows:

From: Hahn, Cynthia [mailto:chahn@oag.state.md.us]
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2012 1:37 PM
To: Scharper, Julie
Subject: Agreement between Stadium Authority and Downforce Racing

Dear Ms. Scharper,
Here is the clarification that you requested regarding the contract between my client, the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA), and Downforce Racing LLC (DFR). I had advised MSA to refrain from making a statement to you because I am out of the country with only intermittent and limited access to e-mail, the status of the contract is somewhat complicated, and it is not in a client's best interest to relay information to the press that is not complete or accurate.
 
Nevertheless, the story characterized an e-mail of mine as advice to “conceal” some information, rather than a desire to release complete and accurate information. 
 
So, please note the following:
  • Prior to March 15, MSA and DFR reached an agreement on the use of a portion of the Camden Yards Site for the Baltimore Grand Prix in 2012 and beyond. The agreement is a parking lot rental agreement. It involves no investment of State monies to perform any construction work on behalf of the new promoter for the race.
  • DFR has provided an executed counterpart of the agreement to MSA, but MSA requires that an additional original signature of one of the principals be obtained. This is a technical administrative requirement, undertaken for the protection of MSA. It is to ensure that the contract is enforceable against DFR, should the promoter default at some point under the contract.
  • MSA has been advised that the delay in obtaining the remaining signature is due to a family crises of one of the DFR principals (unknown to MSA, you would need to check with DFR for any specifics on this reason for delay.) However, DFR has assured MSA that the outstanding signature will be provided as soon as possible.
I trust that the above responds to your concern about the status of this contract.  As for the "PR problem,"  our concern was sharing information that, at the time, remained incomplete for reasons beyond our control.  That circumstance might have left the wrong impression based on the assurances made to MSA.  The legitimate expectation is to have a completely executed contract in short order despite the minor and excusable delay with respect to one signature.
Cynthia Hahn