Doug Gansler knew about underage drinking party, allowed it to go forward

Doug Gansler explains why he didn't stop a teen drinking party. Photo: Suzanne Kennedy

(WJLA) - Saying that doesn't have any "moral authority over other people's children," Maryland Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler didn't do anything to stop a raucous underage drinking party that his son attended in Delaware this past summer.

On Thursday’s front page of the Baltimore Sun, a photo shows Gansler in the middle of a dance party full of teenagers drinking during Beach Week in Delaware just last June.

Gansler's explanation is that he stopped by to tell his 19-year-old son what time they were leaving town in the morning, and then he left.

The Baltimore Sun levies the allegations against Gansler, who is seen in the background of a photo where at least two dozen teenagers are seen dancing and drinking at a rented Bethany Beach, Del. beach house.

“I wasn’t there as a police officer,” he said at a Thursday press conference, adding that he regretted not doing more to stop any teens from drinking alcohol.{ } “I think I should have done more. I probably, in hindsight, should have determined…whether people were drinking.”

He admitted to showing up to the party in question and helping to set up rules for the teenagers, which included a ban on drinking hard alcohol but no such explicit prohibition of consuming beer and wine. He said the party was chaperoned by parents but he was not a chaperone.

He also said he stopped by the party while it was going on to tell his son, who was a DJ at the party, about a scheduling matter.

He said he never saw any teenage in danger or at risk. Nor did he see any drinking.

“I should have probably assumed there was drinking,” he said. “But I wasn’t there to determine if there was drinking.”

He said he should have investigated whether the teens were drinking, adding that there were kids holding red solo cups that are often used during parties. He said he should have investigated whether the teens were drinking.

"There could have been Kool-Aid in those red cups. It was probably beer," he said.

Gansler told the Sun that he and several other parents arranged for the weeklong stay as part of a graduation celebration for students at Bethesda's Landon School.

The Democratic candidate for governor said he still considers himself a good parent.{ }

"I certainly think I’m a good influence on my son,” he says.

In 2012, Gansler appeared in a PSA advocating for teenagers not to drink before reaching legal age. And in Montgomery County, where Gansler served as State’s Attorney, residents are not impressed.

"If he was there for his son and there were kids under age, then he should have said something about it."

"It's definitely distasteful that he's around this and at least not making an attempt to stop anything."

The timing of this incident is unfortunate, as Gansler was recently accused of ordering state troopers to run red lights while driving him to appointments.

But Aasma Ali of Rockville defends Gansler in the Beach Week story, arguing he was there as a father – not a politician:

"That was his personal life, he went there for his son. I don't think it was his place. He should not have had to stop the party."

The PSA, which was part of the Century Council's "Ask. Listen. Learn." campaign, advocates for kids to make smart choices when it comes to underage drinking.

The president of the Century Council says they are pulling the PSA from use and question Gansler's judgment at the party.

“At the very least, he has the responsibility to not be a witness if there was an illegal act taking place and then walk away saying all I care about is the illegal acts of my own children,” says Ralph Blackman of the Century Council.

These revelations are the latest potential hit to Gansler's reputation as he continues to campaign against Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014.

On Oct. 13, Maryland State Police officials levied allegations against Gansler that he regularly abused his police detail to help him avoid traffic jams and run red lights. He allegedly ordered officers to use their lights and sirens to help him move faster.

Gansler denied any and all allegations in an Oct. 17 appearance on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt.