Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler reversed himself today and conceded that there likely was drinking at the teenage party he briefly attended during the summer and that he should not have ignored it.
Gansler, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor, initially insisted he didn't see any drinking when he went to a high school graduation party that his son was attending in June and that it was not his responsibility to stop the underage drinking, which is against the law.
The furor over the party began after an Instagram photo snapped Gansler at a Delaware house party full of teenagers dancing on bars, surrounded by plastic cups, many of which were filled with alcohol, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Gansler told the paper he does not remember if he saw anyone drinking alcohol, though he asserted that even if he had witnessed any underage consumption, it would not have been his responsibility to stop it.
"Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party," Gansler said, according to The Sun. "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."
"My responsibility is only to my child," Gansler told The Sun. "Everybody has their own moral compass. Mine is to raise my own child."
At a news conference today, however, Gansler said he should probably have done more.
"I should've probably assumed there was drinking and talked to the chaperones about what was appropriate," he said.
"From what I understand now, there's certainly some drinking, I guess, going on. You know, there could be Kool-Aid in the red cups, but probably beer in the red cups," he said today.
Gansler emphasized that though the party "was crazy in terms of loud music," he saw no dangerous behavior while he was in the house.
"What I can tell you is that no time while I was in the house did I see any teenager in any danger or any risk. If I had, of course I would have attended to that person and spoken to the chaperones."
The week-long rental at the South Bethany beach house was a gift from Gansler and a slew of other parents for their sons' recent graduation. Rules of the house, set by the parents, included two adult chaperones every night and banned driving, girls behind closed bedroom doors and hard alcohol, according to The Sun.
Beer and wine, however, were absent from the list of no-nos.
"To the extent that people are looking at this as an issue, I think it's a good thing. I think it confronts every parent that has 19, 20-year-old kids," Gansler said. "What is your responsibility as a parent to determine whether or not there may be drinking going on at other parts of the house."
Gansler, who is running against Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in the Democratic gubernatorial primary to succeed current Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, has not been a stranger to controversy.
O'Malley refused to comment on the controversy as he left the Center for American Progress conference in Washington today, saying that "voters are smart. In the course of time they have the ability to evaluate the positions of candidates and their personal make up. ... Things like this happen in the course of a campaign."
Gansler mentioned in the news conference that his character has not come under attack until he decided to run for governor.
"It does seem ironic to me that I have 21 years [experience] as a prosecutor and [have] never been accused of doing anything except having level temperament, great judgment," he said.