Prosecutor Emmet Davitt announced charges against Dennis Fusaro, a national Republican figure best known for leaking internal emails and phone calls from Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, including the infamous Jesse Benton hold your nose tape, and Stephen Waters, a Republican political consultant based in Virginia.
The alleged election law violations stem from a robocall that went to about 5,000 Anne Arundel County, Maryland residents the weekend before the 2014 election, congratulating Democratic County Council candidate Patrick Armstrong "for his bravery in coming out of the closet" and linking him to a controversial measure that banned discrimination against transgender people in public areas, including restrooms.
The recording gave the home phone number of Armstrong's mother and invited residents to call about Armstrong's support of "the bathroom bill." Many did.
Prosecutors said the call lacked the appropriate identification and came from what they described as "an untraceable" prepaid cell phone purchased with cash by Waters and Fusaro at Walmart in Fredericksburg, Va.
"The call in question failed to identify Fusaro and Waters as the persons responsible for the call, and failed to state whether it was authorized by any candidate," prosecutors said in a statement. "Instead, the call falsely stated that it was 'Paid for and authorized by Marylanders for Trangenders'" the statement said, adding that prosecutors believe the pair bought burner phones "in an effort to conceal their identities as the persons authorizing and paying for the call."
Fusaro was the campaign manager of Armstrong's opponent, Republican Councilman Michael Anthony Peroutka.
Peroutka was elected to the Council but has denied any knowledge of the call.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Christopher Kachouroff, attorney for Fusaro and Waters, would not say whether his clients were responsible for the call, but dubbed its message "political satire."
Fusaro and Waters have been charged with two counts — violating and conspiring to violate the authority line requirements of Maryland election laws. Each charge carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 13.
Prosecutors released a full transcript of the call:
"Hello, what a great opportunity for the LGBT community. We have a true believer for our cause in Patrick Armstrong who's running for County Council in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Call Patrick today and thank him for his bravery in coming out of the closet. Coming out of the closet and supporting the fairness to all Marylander's Act, the Maryland State Senate Bill 212, and supporting the rights for all transgenders. Transgenders can now openly and freely go into any bathroom of their choice based on their confused gender identity. Tell Patrick to continue to stand loud and proud in support for transgenders' equal rights. While our opponent argued that children could be at risk by sexual predators with this new law, we celebrate the rights of transgenders and what this does for equality for transgenders in Maryland. Call him today at and thank him for supporting the bathroom bill. Paid for and authorized by Marylander's for Transgenders."
Reached by phone by Target Liberty, Fusaro declined to make a statement.
State prosecutor's statement
Recording of Transgender Robocall Emerges