xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trone fires campaign staffers who tried to plant themselves with opponents

David Trone
David Trone

Two staff members working for businessman David Trone's recently launched congressional campaign attempted to plant themselves as spies in the offices of his leading opponents.

The incident came to light Monday when Kathleen Matthews, a former WJLA anchor, sent a letter to Trone's campaign alleging that someone who worked on his staff had arrived at their headquarters seeking to volunteer.

Advertisement

The person, identified in Matthews' letter only as "Joseph," attempted to enter a senior staff office, the Matthews campaign said.

Trone and Matthews are running in Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

Advertisement
Advertisement

In a statement Tuesday, Trone indicated that another staff member had attempted to volunteer for state Sen. Jamie Raskin's campaign. Trone said he fired the two individuals, and also a supervisor.

A campaign spokeswoman said the three were paid staffers, and that the supervisor was a field director.

"Today, I learned that young people working for my campaign surreptitiously volunteered for the campaigns of other candidates in the race," Trone said in a statement. "After investigating the incident, I terminated those two employees and their supervisor effectively immediately."

Matthews and Raskin are widely considered the front runners in the race.

Advertisement

It was, to put it mildly, an unexpected turn in a race that may be upended by Trone's entrance.

Trone, co-owner of Bethesda-based Total Wine & More, has never before run for political office, but he has vowed to spend significant sums of his own cash. To back that up, he has already purchased airtime in the Washington market -- a buy far more extensive than any of the other candidates.

But after less than a week in the race, Trone has already given his opponents a great deal of ammunition to use against him. For starters, the rest of the field is all but certain to accuse him of trying to buy the race. And Trone's recent comments to The Washington Post about his own political donations, and the influence he has attempted to wield with that money, also raised eyebrows. That's particularly true in a field where most of the other candidates are eager to prove their liberal bona fides on campaign finance.

In a letter to the Trone campaign, Matthews campaign manager Ethan Susseles recounted how "Joseph" walked into their offices on Monday offering to volunteer. Matthews aides became suspicious when he returned from his canvassing assignment too quickly, and then tried to access the campaign's senior staff office.

"We are very disappointed that this occurred yesterday, not only because it is unethical, but also because it came less than 24 hours after David called Kathleen and personally pledged to run a clean, positive campaign," Susseles wrote.

Trone said in his statement he had called Matthews and Raskin to apologize.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement