Recently, Joe Steffen, a person some at Red Maryland once considered a friend, decided to go beyond his previous puerile criticisms of us and cross the line into out and out defamation. In a recent post, Mr. Steffen stated, as a fact, that Red Maryland was engaged in a "paid protection racket" by offering access to our pages and radio shows not only to provide candidates with exposure but to provide paid advertising opportunities as well. Mr. Steffen claimed, as a fact, that our true intention was to "intimidate or coerce payments for flattering words" from candidates throughout the State.
To say that this is false should be obvious to anyone familiar with our work, including Mr. Steffen. Mr. Steffen knows full well that we are not a criminal syndicate looking to extort payments from Republican candidates. Yet, he chose to publish such statements with full knowledge of their falsity in an attempt to discredit Red Maryland and to interfere with our relationships with the Baltimore Sun and others. This was a tortious act and, as the extortion that Mr. Steffen alleges is a crime under Md. Ann. Code, Criminal Law Article, 3-701, is defamation per se under Maryland law. Again, these statements were made with full knowledge for their falsity and with malice.
Red Maryland has worked since 2007 to be an outlet for news, opinion and information for Maryland Republicans and conservatives. We are completely not for profit and are motivated solely by our passion to improve our state and advance the cause of conservatism. We have provided access to our platform to scores of candidates throughout the years. Many of these candidates would have little or no media exposure and certainly would not have had the access to a statewide audience of dedicated conservatives like that of our readers here at Red Maryland. Our support for candidates has never been affected by our advertising or other business relationships. Red Maryland has given access to its pages to all candidates, even those we have criticized or chosen not to endorse. There has never been any pay-to-play or quid pro quo at Red Maryland and, again, the statements and insinuations to the contrary are known to be false.
Furthermore, Steffen has proved himself to be a gaping hypocrite. He derides Red Maryland Editor, Mark Newgent for taking “money for political favors,” and “thus blowing the lid off of any claims Red Maryland can ever again make that they can be trusted to be objective.”
First, we’ve never claimed to be “objective.” We wear our biases openly on our sleeve, always have. You’ve always known where Red Maryland was coming from. Newgent has repeatedly disclosed his work for Change Maryland and the Hogan for Governor Campaign. He has performed research work for both organizations. Hardly a “political favor.”
However, by his own logic, Steffen is guilty of the very crime he accuses Newgent. To wit: Steffen received $2,000 from Dan Bongino’s congressional campaign for what Bongino campaign spokeswoman labeled “limited research for specific issues with the campaign.” This describes exactly what Newgent performed for Change Maryland and the Hogan campaign. However, unlike Newgent, Steffen never disclosed that information. A July 2013, Washington Post article noted that Steffen was doing opposition research, “but declined to name any of his clients, who he said are located between New York and South Carolina.” This is significant since this fall, Steffen took to social media on several occasions to criticize Bongino’s then primary opponent David Vogt.
Labeling what he did for Bongino, or what Newgent does for Hogan as “political favors,” distorts the term beyond any meaning, which was, of course, Steffen’s obvious intent.
We are proud of our outreach to candidates and the false claims that we have done it for profit or our own personal ends is not only injurious to us personally but the very candidates and causes we worked to serve these last seven years. We take this very seriously and to all those who have published or republished these defamatory statements, know that we will take all appropriate actions and seek every available remedy.
To our audience, rest assured that we will never cease in our mission. We will not allow the malevolent actions of a handful of malicious detractors to deter us from the mission of this blog, to advance the cause of free markets, conservative values and making Maryland a true two party state.