October 18, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Figure in Md. robocalls case funding anti-Question 6 group
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Marriage, Gay Maryland

Inside Jump the Broom for Marriages’ campaign headquarters in Baltimore (Courtesy photo)

Maryland campaign finance records indicate a Baltimore political consultant who served jail time earlier this year for conspiring to produce robocalls designed to discourage black voters from voting in the 2010 gubernatorial election has given $20,000 to a group fighting the state’s same-sex marriage law.

The report that Jump the Broom for Marriages filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections on Oct. 13 indicates Julius Henson donated $500 to the campaign on Aug. 1, $10,500 on Aug. 30 and $10,000 on Sept. 21. The PAC reported it raised $21,881 between June 12 and Oct. 7.

Jump the Broom for Marriages’ campaign finance report further indicates Henson made an in-kind donation of $7,200 for campaign signs, literature and stationary on Oct. 7. It notes another $3,900 receipt dated Sept. 1 for use of office space at 501 W. 23rd St. in Baltimore as a “campaign HQ.” Henson’s company, Universal Elections, Inc., is located at the same address, according to its website.

Jump the Broom for Marriages paid Ralco Products Co., Inc., of Pikesville $9,583.43 on Sept. 24 for what its campaign finance report describes as “yard signs, 4×4, 4×8 signs, tee shirts, giveaways other campaign materials.” It also bought $5,500 worth of air time with Radio One Baltimore, which operates four black and gospel radio stations in the city, on Aug. 29. Jump the Broom for Marriages purchased another $1,000 of air time with the same group on Oct. 5.

Jump the Broom for Marriages also paid IQ & Associates in Baltimore $2,780 on the same day for what it described as “field operation/literature drops.” The group has been placing anti-Question 6 fliers on cars throughout Baltimore in recent weeks. Jump the Broom for Marriages has also distributed yard signs that urge voters to oppose Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in the Nov. 6 referendum.

A photograph of one of these signs that the Washington Blade recently obtained from inside Jump the Broom for Marriages’ campaign headquarters contains a yellow cross superimposed onto a purple background with the words “no same-sex marriage” written on it. The poster further urges voters to vote against Question 6.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman,” reads the sign.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in May ordered Henson and his company, Universal Elections, Inc., to pay a $1 million fine for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when he and employee Rhonda Russell robocalled more than 112,000 Democratic voters in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County on behalf of former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Jr.,’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The calls said they did not need to vote before the polls closed on Election Day because Gov. Martin O’Malley and President Obama had already won.

“Our goals have been met,” said the call prosecutors maintain Henson and Russell wrote and recorded. “The polls were correct and we took it back. We’re okay. Relax. Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you.”

A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge in June sentenced Henson to 60 days in jail and 300 hours of community service for his role in the scheme. He was released in July.

Ehrlich’s campaign manager, Paul Schurick, earlier this year received 30 days house arrest, four years probation and 500 hours of community service in the case.

Neither Henson, nor Universal Elections, Inc., immediately returned the Blade’s request for comment.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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