Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler says he should have investigated whether teens were drinking alcohol at a party his son attended in June.
“I didn’t go over and stick my nose in [the cups] and see, but maybe I should have,” Gansler told about a dozen reporters at a Silver Spring press conference Thursday.
Gansler, a Democrat who is running for governor in Maryland, called the press conference to address a Baltimore Sun story about the party.
According to the Sun, Gansler’s son and other students from the Landon School in Bethesda attended a party in South Bethany, Del., on June 13 to celebrate their graduation. A few of the students’ parents paid for a weeklong vacation at a beach house where the party was held.
The Sun and the Gazette have obtained photos supposedly taken at the party. In the Sun’s photo, Gansler is shown holding up his cell phone in the center of a large group of dancing teens.
Gansler said he dropped by the party to tell his son when they would leave Delaware to drive to Pennsylvania in the morning, but he did not pay attention what his son’s friends were drinking.
The Sun reported that two party chaperones, parents of the students, were at the event to enforce the house rules: bedroom doors must stay open and teens may not drink hard liquor or drive.
Gansler told the Sun that he was concerned about his own son, and not necessarily the contents of the teens’ red plastic cups. But at the press conference, he said that was a mistake.
Gansler is aware there was beer at the party, but he said investigating underage drinking was not his priority that night.
“I didn’t buy the beer,” he said. “I showed up, talked to my son and left.”
At the press conference, Gansler also addressed questions about his use of his cell phone, which he appears to be holding at an arm’s length. He verified that he was in the photos, and said he was not taking pictures, but was walking through the party while trying to read a text message.
The gubernatorial candidate said he did not see anyone in immediate danger, using drugs or getting hurt, and his main concern was to talk to his son. Gansler noted he was not one of the chaperones, and did not take part in the lease for the beach house.
“What I could have done is investigate whether there was drinking going on, and take action,” he said. “I probably should have done that.”
Gansler said he has strong relationships with his son and his son’s friends, many of whom he has coached since they were children.
“I’m a very, very involved parent,” he said.
Gansler was first sworn in as Maryland’s attorney general in 2007. He was re-elected in 2010. The Democratic candidate for governor hit the campaign trail in September, and is now working on a county-by-county campaign to share his vision for Maryland, the Gazette previously reported.