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Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks: Bob Ehrlich, who should know better, endorses Michael Peroutka for Maryland AG | COMMENTARY

When you see a reference to the right-wing extremist Michael Peroutka being a former member of a hate group, just remember: His first instinct, when called out for his affiliation with the League of the South, was to stick with it.

This happened when Peroutka, now enjoying the support of the Maryland Republican Party as its candidate for attorney general, ran for a seat on the Anne Arundel County Council.

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In the summer of 2014, The Baltimore Sun reported his membership in the LOS, an organization identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “neo-Confederate” group with a vision of a “godly nation” run by an “Anglo-Celtic” elite — that is, white Christian supremacists.

“The League denounces the federal government and Northern and Coastal states as part of a materialist and anti-religious society they call The Empire,” says the SPLC. “In recent years, it has increasingly embraced violence, criticized perceived Jewish power and warned Black people that they would be defeated in a future race war.”

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Confronted with his membership in the LOS and with a video showing him leading its 2012 national convention in “Dixie,” Peroutka refused to cut ties with the group. Larry Hogan, running for governor that year, disavowed Peroutka, and Peroutka fired back that Hogan “never took the time to even ask me if I was a racist.”

Peroutka criticized The Sun for trying to “smear me as a racist based on the ‘hate group’ designation that the SPLC gave the League of the South.”

A few months later, Peroutka said he left the LOS for “private reasons,” which appear to be shaking attention from the issue and not because of any ideological epiphany.

Indeed, his own words, past and present, suggest that Peroutka holds fast to the vision of a “godly nation.” You can find pledges on his campaign website to uphold “God-given” rights, especially the one to own a gun.

Peroutka won a seat on the council in 2014 and served one term. Last month, he won the GOP primary for AG, and the state party leadership — though not Hogan — says it stands fully behind him. The Washington Post reports that former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich will campaign for Peroutka and the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate, Dan Cox, another right-wing extremist.

As an attorney and former member of Congress, Ehrlich might want to ask Peroutka if he respects the laws of the land because, based on his previous public statements, that’s in serious doubt. The Maryland GOP is supporting for attorney general a retired debt-collection attorney who has stated that “God’s law” trumps state and federal statutes.

Peroutka has been a prolific essayist for a website called “News With Views,” sponsored by My Pillow. The website promotes itself as a place “where reality shatters illusions,” and one of the “realities,” according to a Peroutka essay, is that the COVID-19 pandemic that killed more than 6.4 million people worldwide was a “fraud and hoax.” Several of his essays were critical of public health officials and their directives for saving lives.

If you go back further, into the Peroutka archives, you’ll find numerous posts on “God’s law,” and, specifically, how “God’s law” supersedes any law created by duly elected legislators.

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“What is not in accord with God’s Law is not law,” Peroutka wrote in 2014, adding this: “While it is true that the Church and the State are separate institutions and that they have different functions given to them by God, it is NOT true that government is separate from and owes no allegiance to God and His Word. To the contrary, God’s Word — the Bible — is the ultimate law book and the ultimate guide for all actions of civil government at all levels.”

In another essay, Peroutka went further: “If you think that law is something that a judge can make just by deciding a case that comes before him; or if you think that law is something that a legislature can make just by passing a bill and sending it to a governor or a president for his approval; or if you think that a governor or a president can make law just by means of an executive order, then I would respectfully suggest that you are mistaken about the true source and nature of law. … If these man-made actions conflict with God’s moral law, then they are not law at all.”

That’s pretty disturbing stuff coming from a man who wants to be attorney general of Maryland and who has the backing of the state party and a former Republican governor.

You’d think Ehrlich would know better than to get behind Peroutka, much less Cox, the Trump-endorsed Big Lie guy. Standing up for such candidates for the sake of “party unity” is about as lame as it gets. Hardly a profile in courage for a guy who couldn’t get re-elected to a second term but still considers himself a player.

I sent Ehrlich emails asking questions about his questionable endorsements. He did not respond, but Corine Frank, the executive director of the Maryland GOP did, suggesting that questions about the “party’s unity initiative, including Gov. Ehrlich’s efforts,” should go through her.

I also tried to contact Peroutka to see if he stood by his views on “God’s law.” But I didn’t hear back. Perhaps his campaign was busy answering questions about Peroutka’s belief that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.


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