At the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when the Clinton administration was consumed with damage control, a White House aide reached out to Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening and asked the fellow Democrat to back off his criticism of the president, according to a trove of documents released Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library.
President Bill Clinton's former director of intergovernmental affairs, Mickey Ibarra, wrote in a Sept. 7, 1998, memo that he spoke to Glendening the day before and "delivered our message (it does not help any of us to pile on)." Ibarra said he also spoke with then-Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry.
The memo, included in thousands of pages of previously undisclosed White House records, offers a rare glimpse of political arm-twisting at the highest levels. The interaction came just days after Glendening, who was running for his second term, chastised Clinton publicly and canceled a fundraiser the president was to headline.
"The governor explained why he felt he needed to distance himself from the president," Ibarra wrote. "I ... let [Glendening] know that Schmoke and Curry are furious with him for his actions on this and any hope of getting those two on board with his race were lost at least until after the primary."
"Both Schmoke and Curry remain fully supportive of the president, would like to host an event with him, agreed to call both Mulkulski and Sarbanes," Ibarra wrote, referring to Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and misspelling the name of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. "Neither expect [Glendening] to win in November."
Glendening won with 55 percent of the vote.
The Clinton administration made the call after Glendening was quoted as saying that Clinton's "behavior was inappropriate and it was wrong."
"We have an 18-year-old son. We're trying to teach him to be responsible for his actions," the governor said at the time. "You need role models in terms of [showing young people] how to do this, and this makes it even worse."
Glendening said in an interview Friday that he remembered the episode and was embarrassed about it. He said he called the president to apologize and said he and Clinton remained close afterward. Glendening's criticism came days after Clinton had offered his first public apology about the Lewinsky affair.
"There are occasions when your mouth is fully engaged several seconds before your brain catches up with it," Glendening said. "He was not only very forgiving but was very gracious in the way he handled that."
Years later, Glendening came under fire for a relationship with a high-ranking aide in the governor's office, Jennifer Crawford. They eventually married.
Schmoke could not be reached for comment.