Posted on July 12, 2005

Selective Aversion to Racial Exclusivity

Les Kinsolving,, July 12

Out on Baltimore’s North Charles Street, near the city-county line, is the Elkridge Club, where Maryland’s Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich recently held a golfing fund-raiser.

This played directly into the heavy hands of Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker.

Mr. Olesker is, along with his fellow Sun writer David Nitkin, as well as the Baltimore Sun itself, suing the governor of Maryland.

For Gov. Robert Ehrlich exercised his right under the First Amendment’s provision of free speech to say to Olesker and Nitkin: “No comment.” And he asked all spokesmen for his administration to join him in saying “No comment.”

Their loony lawsuit has already been thrown out of one federal court in Baltimore. But Olesker, Nitkin and the Sun have appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—which recently turned down a similar appeal.

The fact that Olesker is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the governor has not stopped him from using Sun ink to continue attacking the governor; as follows:

  • “As several Elkridge members and former officers confirmed to the Sun last week, there has not been a black person admitted to membership in the club in its entire 127-year history.”
  • By state law, clubs must have inclusionary policies (not barring women, blacks, or other minority groups from joining) and the clubs must assure this by disclosing their membership rolls to the state, to get a property tax break on their highly valuable land. In 1977, the Elkridge Club decided to forfeit that break . . . “
  • “This is a governor who has gained much political capital—and rightly so—by choosing Maryland’s first African-American running mate. He has also been accused (by this newspaper, among others) of choosing him not because Steele had a particularly inspiring personal history, but for the sheer symbolic strength of his skin color.”

The Washington Post quoted the governor as saying that he was not aware that the Elkridge Club has no black members:

“We rented the place for four hours. I don’t know what their membership list is, and guess what—it’s none of my business, nor is it any of your business. This is all a bunch of nothing.”


Sun writer Andrew Green reported on July 6:

A campaign spokeswoman for a leading Democratic politician, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., confirmed yesterday that a supporter hosted a fund-raiser for him at Elkridge on May 4.

“Jim Smith has never belonged to a country club in his life. He was not aware of the country club’s membership composition, and as the leader of a diverse county, he appreciates that it has been brought to his attention. Clearly he will not have future campaign events hosted at this location,” said Rachael Rice, a fund-raising consultant for the Smith campaign.