Doug Gansler party attendees say attorney general couldn't have missed drinking
(WJLA) - Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler was not telling the truth in his response to allegations that he did nothing to stop a teen drinking party that he attended this past summer, according to two women who attended the June bash in Delaware.
The women, who were 18-years-old when they attended the June 13 party in Bethany Beach, Del., say there was obvious evidence of underage drinking.
Gansler claimed repeatedly Thursday that he didn’t notice any drinking and that he only went to the party to tell his son, the party's DJ, that they were leaving in the morning.
"Everybody was drunk,” says one of the women, who ABC7 is not identifying. “People were literally pouring beer from the top level onto the floor and it was just so blatantly obvious.”
An Instagram photo purportedly taken at the party shows Gansler in the middle of a group of teens, some of whom are holding what appear to be cans and bottles of alcohol.
The woman also say that Gansler’s assertion that he was only at the party briefly is wrong.
“He was definitely not in and out because I saw him there a significant amount of time,” says one woman.
"He was there for the entire time I was there,” says the other woman, who says she was at the party for at least an hour.
Gansler’s gubernatorial campaign declined to comment on the women's claims.
Gansler says he was one of the organizers of the party house rental in Bethany Beach as part of a graduation celebration for students at the Landon School in Bethesda.
He and other parents established ground rules for the beach week, he told the Sun, which included a ban on hard alcohol and boys being alone with girls behind closed doors. There was no explicit ban on beer or wine.
Gansler went on the defensive at a press conference several hours after the allegations were levied Thursday saying that he was at the party as a parent and not as Maryland's top law enforcement official. However, he did repeatedly say that he regretted not doing more to stop underage drinking if it was happening.
"I wasn't there as a police officer, (but) I think I should have done more," Gansler said. "I probably, in hindsight, should have determined whether people were drinking."
He went further into his apology on Friday; in a statement, Gansler said that he faces "many of the same issues as any other parent," including drawing a balance between helping children make good choices and times to let them make their own decisions.
Gansler also said he wasn't taking pictures of the teens.
" was actually looking at a text because I'm 50 years old and can't read, so I was holding it out..." he explained.
But one of the party attendees says this is wrong.
"I saw him walking around taking pictures or videos with his son and being there for the entire time I was there,” she says.
Despite telling the Sun that the reality of the situation is that some kids drink alcohol while at these events and that it was outside his moral compass to discipline them, he said Thursday that he should have done more to intervene.
Gansler's actions also came on the heels of his appearance in a public service announcement for the Century Council in which he decries the trend of underage drinking and urges parents to step in early to prevent it.
"You're the leading influence in your teen's decision not to drink," Gansler said in the PSA, which was released in December of 2012.
On WAMU radio Friday, Gansler's running mate said they are trying to put the controversy behind them and focus on the relevant issues.
"Doug Gansler has already apologized," said Jolene Ivey. "He's already said, 'I made a mistake.' That's the first thing anybody has to do is acknowledge you have a problem."
The voters we spoke with seemed somewhat forgiving.
"I don't think it would influence my vote, but it's a mark," said Bethesda resident Cynthia Gray.
"You can't judge somebody by perhaps one lapse in judgement," added another Bethesda resident, Suzan Friedman.
"We need him, but he needs to get his act together better," said Randy Reiner.
The primary is next June.