Politics

Maryland AG: Breaking Up Teen Drinking Party Not My Job

October 25, 2013
 

When Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler arrived at a house party of teenagers in June, he pushed through the crowd, past youngsters dancing on a table and a smattering of red plastic cups. One of the revelers snapped a photo.

As the night wore on, teens at the South Bethany rental home posted tweets, photos and videos of a bash labeled the "eviction party" for its intensity — a celebration where underage participants later confirmed many were drinking alcohol.

Gansler, a Democrat who is running for governor, said this week that he stopped by the Delaware beach house to talk briefly with his teenage son and then left. He said he does not remember whether he saw anyone drinking. But even if he had, Gansler said, it was not his responsibility as a parent or a high-ranking law enforcement official to intervene.

"Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party," Gansler said. "How is that relevant to me? … The question is, do I have any moral authority over other people's children at beach week in another state? I say no."

Advocates against substance abuse and underage drinking disagreed, saying adults shouldn't look the other way.

"It's totally inappropriate for an adult, especially for an elected official whose job is to uphold the laws of the state or any state," said Michael Gimbel, an independent consultant and the former alcohol abuse prevention official for Baltimore County.

"For any parent to do this is irresponsible. But for an attorney general who fought for these laws on the books is even worse," he said.

Gansler has publicly advocated against underage drinking, appearing less than a year ago in a video for the Century Council, a nonprofit that works to combat both teen drinking and drunken driving.

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