Maryland governer-elect Robert Ehrlich Jr. has been given extensive and
apparently discounted use of a luxury executive helicopter provided by a company
with ties to Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the Baltimore Sun reported
The newspaper reported that Erlich and his family used a helicopter owned by
J. Duncan Smith during the campaign and for post-election vacationing, that no
payments had been made and that invoices from the Erlich campaign showed that the
rate charged was less than one-half the normal rate of $2,500 per hour. The rest
was attributed to an in-kind donation that was not timely reported.
Duncan Smith is a member of the family that owns and runs Sinclair and is a
member of its board. Sinclair is among the nation's largest broadcasters, with
63 stations in 40 markets.
Maryland Democrats have accused the company's flagship, WBFF(TV) Baltimore,
of bias against Erlich's opponent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. While company
spokesman Mark Hyman acknowledged some criticism of Townsend in editorials, he
denied any bias in the station's reporting.