Republican House Candidate Sues GOP Leaders’ Campaign Fund for Defamation

A Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in Carroll County is suing a political action committee controlled by House Republicans for defamation.


According to a complaint filed in Carroll County Circuit Court, the candidate, David Ellin, claims the House Victory 2018 Slate, created by House GOP leaders to elect Republicans to the House of Delegates, defamed him with a mailer sent to GOP voters’ homes in late April.


The mailer asserted that Ellin, an attorney, “fought against the Carroll County, conservative values we hold dear while lying to our faces.” It accused him of being insufficiently supportive of gun owners’ rights, and unearthed campaign contributions he had made to “the radical left” – including to state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of now-U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D), and former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D).



David Ellin



Ellin is competing in a four-way Republican primary against the district’s three incumbents, Dels. Susan W. Krebs, April R. Rose and Haven N. Shoemaker Jr.


In his court complaint, Ellin maintains that the House Victory 2018 Slate’s mailings “contain knowingly false, defamatory and maliciously-distorted allegations.” As a result, the lawsuit goes on, Ellin’s “character and reputation…were harmed, his standing and reputation in both the political and legal communities was impaired, and he suffered mental anguish and personal humiliation.”    


Ellin, who did not respond to a phone message left Tuesday at his law office in Reisterstown, is seeking a jury trial for his defamation suit and $74,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

This is not the first time that the House Victory 2018 Slate has gone after fellow Republicans. As Maryland Matters has previously reported, the GOP-controlled political committee has paid for mailers attacking Anne Arundel County Councilman Jerry Walker (R), who is running for a House seat in a district where three Republicans are also seeking reelection.


Walker has repeatedly feuded with Anne Arundel County Executive Steven R. Schuh (R), a major benefactor of the House Victory 2018 Slate.


Dirk D. Haire, the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party who doubles as chairman of the House Victory slate, defended the mailing and expenditures against Ellin.


“Have you looked at David Ellin’s contribution history?” Haire said. He added that the GOP welcomes party-switchers – but prefers those who have demonstrated some support for other Republican candidates and officeholders and aren’t just switching parties for political expediency.


While Ellin’s lawsuit has been filed in Carroll County court, Haire, the named recipient, said Tuesday evening that he had not yet been served the legal papers.


Haire added that the defendants’ response would not be due to be filed in court until after the June 26 Republican primary.


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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.


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