A Maryland delegate’s former chief of staff was convicted Tuesday of violating Maryland election laws.
Tyler Walch, former chief of staff for Del. Richard Impallaria (R-Baltimore County), was sentenced Tuesday to 100 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine for violating the authority line requirements of Maryland election law.
The case was launched in January by the Office of the State Prosecutor, which said Walch authorized robocalls intended to draw votes in the Republican primary from another Baltimore County House candidate, Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, that failed to disclose who paid for and who authorized the message.
The call was made to 9,000 Baltimore and Harford County residents on June 25, the day before the 2018 primary election. At the time, Impallaria and Szeliga, another incumbent delegate, were among 13 Republican candidates in a crowded race to represent District 7, which includes parts of Harford and Baltimore counties.
The text of the call was released by the Office of the State Prosecutor:
“Hi this is Ali, a donor to the National Center for Transgender Equality calling to ask you to support Delegate Kathy Szeliga in tomorrow’s Republican Primary Election. Kathy Szeliga is a true friend of the Transgender Community having voted for House Bill 1003 making it illegal to discriminate against transgendered persons in the workplace. With the support of lawmakers willing to work across the aisle like Kathy Szeliga, transgenders will soon be able to use the bathrooms of their choice. Again this is Ali calling to ask you to support Kathy Szeliga, a friend of the transgender community. Thank you!”
Szeliga is one of many conservatives who have opposed transgender anti-discrimination bills in the last several legislative sessions.
State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said in a statement that the goal of the call was to mislead voters, which was compounded by the missing authority line.
“This message not only failed to provide the information required by Maryland law, it attempted to deliberately deceive voters by providing misleading information,” Davitt said. “Maryland voters are entitled to know what person or group is responsible for such material, particularly when it is published and distributed one day before the Primary Election. The credibility of the messenger is an essential factor in evaluating the value of the message.”
The charges in the case allege that Walch communicated the contents of the call to Impallaria before the message was disseminated.
Walch was sentenced by District Court Judge Philip N. Tirabassi. Davitt thanked the Maryland State Police for helping to execute a search warrant and conduct a forensic analysis during the case.
Walch was fired from his General Assembly job by the speaker’s office after charges were filed, The Baltimore Sun reported.