WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A summertime beach party with teenage drinking has turned into a bad night out for Maryland attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler.
Gansler, a Democrat, said on Thursday he should have checked for underage drinking during a brief stop at a party for graduating high school students in June.
"Perhaps I should have assumed there was drinking going on, and I got that wrong. What I can tell you is that at no time while I was in the house did I see any teenager in any danger or any risk," he told a news conference.
Gansler said he did not know whether there was illegal drinking at the South Bethany, Delaware, beach house party, which had adult chaperones. He stopped by to talk to his son and
said that, in hindsight, he should have done more to investigate.
Gansler called the news conference in Silver Spring, Maryland, after the Baltimore Sun published a photograph showing him and a group of teenagers, three of whom were dancing on a tabletop. Two other adults can be seen standing in the corner.
The Sun reported that underage participants confirmed many were drinking alcohol. None were quoted by name in the story.
Spurring the controversy was Gansler's public service announcement on the risks of underage drinking recorded last year.
It is the latest episode marking the June Democratic primary campaign, in which Gansler is squaring off against Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Heather Mizeur, a member of the state's house of delegates.
The Washington Post reported this month that Maryland State Police records alleged Gansler had regularly ordered troopers assigned to drive him to speed and run red lights. Gansler responded by accusing a police commander who documented the concerns of being a "henchman" trying to help Brown's campaign.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)