News & Politics

Doug Gansler: Maryland Attorney General, Beach Party Crasher

Gansler dropped in on a Beach Week party his son attended, and someone got him on Instagram.

How did Doug Gansler, Maryland’s attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, spend his summer vacation? On one June evening, it turns out, he crashed what appears to have been an epic rager at a Delaware beach house, according to a months-old Instagram photo that surfaced today in the Baltimore Sun.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find Gansler in the photo—he’s the dad in a white Oxford shirt in room full of sweaty, shirtless teenagers and red Solo cups, one of the universal signs of partying.

Gansler told the Sun he stopped by the house which he and other parents had rented for their kids to live out Beach Week, a Maryland tradition in which high-school graduates retreat to the oceanside and kick off the summer with boozy abandon. That night’s festivities were labeled an “eviction party” according to tweets, photos, and other bits of social media that emanated from the house. Gansler also said that despite the Solo cups and kids grinding on a tabletop, he did not see any underage drinking.

But even if he had, he said it was not his responsibility to stop it. “Assume for purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party,” Gansler told 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.”

As attorney general, Gansler has appeared in public service advisories advocating against underage drinking. His response to his son’s party, though, has some of Gansler’s allies on that issue a bit stunned. “Let me pick myself up off the floor here,” said Ralph Blackman, the head of the Century Council, which sponsored an anti-drinking spot that featured Gansler.

Gansler’s campaign hastily arranged a news conference Thursday afternoon to quell the reaction to his initial comments that it wasn’t his place to police his kid’s party. “Perhaps I should have assumed there was drinking going on, and I got that wrong,” he said. “There could be Kool-Aid in the red cups, but there’s probably beer in the red cups.”

That’s probably an accurate reassessment. “I don’t remember much, but it was one of the best parties I’ve been to, hands down,” one youthful reveler told the Sun.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.