A former Anne Arundel County councilman who once promoted Southern secession has hopes of becoming Maryland’s next attorney general.
Michael Anthony Peroutka, a retired debt-collection attorney who served one term on Anne Arundel’s council, filed candidacy paperwork this week to run for attorney general as a Republican.
Peroutka will face Jim Shalleck, a former prosecutor and elections official, in the Republican primary.
Peroutka did not respond to phone and email messages on Wednesday.
For years, Peroutka belonged to the League of the South, a self-described “Southern Nationalist organization” that advocates for “preserving the traditional culture of the South” for “Southerners of European descent.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the League of the South as a hate group for white people that aims to “establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate black people and other minorities.”
Peroutka’s activities in the League of the South included playing the Confederate song “Dixie” at a convention in 2012 and calling it the “national anthem.”
Peroutka’s League of the South membership came under scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans alike in the 2014 race for county council. Though he first said he wouldn’t cut ties with the League of the South, he eventually did shortly before the general election.
Peroutka ended up winning the election to represent a conservative-leaning district that includes the communities of Severna Park, Millersville, Arnold and Broadneck.
As Peroutka served on the Anne Arundel County Council, the county’s Democratic Party urged him to resign, citing his close relationship with Roy Moore, the former top judge in Alabama and Republican U.S. Senate candidate who was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct against multiple girls and women.
Peroutka did not resign from the county council, but he lost a reelection bid in the 2018 primary.
Peroutka also ran a long-shot campaign for president with the Constitution Party in 2004 and donated a $1 million dinosaur skeleton to Kentucky’s Creation Museum, which promotes biblical creationism over the scientific theory of evolution.
Shalleck, the other Republican running for attorney general, said he didn’t know much about Peroutka and declined to discuss him.
Shalleck said it doesn’t matter who he runs against, he’ll keep focused on his pledge to expand the attorney general’s involvement in prosecuting violent crimes with an approach of “no plea bargaining, no deals.”
“This is my message, and if the public agrees, hopefully I’ll win,” said Shalleck, who lives in Montgomery Village. “It doesn’t matter who I run against. It’s totally irrelevant who my opponent is because my message won’t change.”
Shalleck says his experience includes prosecuting homicides in New York City and serving as a white-collar crime prosecutor with New York’s attorney general’s office. He came to Maryland in 1989 to work for the U.S. Department of Justice.
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When he entered the race, Shalleck resigned from a position as chairman of Montgomery County’s Board of Elections. He’s previously run unsuccessfully for state’s attorney, judge and county executive.
Patrick Armstrong, the Democrat who was defeated by Peroutka in the 2014 election, said he expects voters will have the sense not to vote for a man with such a problematic history.
“Peroutka was defeated by sensible Republicans in 2018 and I have no doubt that when facing the Maryland electorate statewide, voters will have no interest in a Peroutka-Roy Moore-Donald Trump candidate for attorney general,” Armstrong said.
Peroutka’s entry into the attorney general’s race was first noted on The Duckpin blog.
The current attorney general, Democrat Brian Frosh, announced plans to retire.
The deadline for candidates to file candidacy paperwork is Feb. 22 for the June primary elections.