State education association files complaint against Gansler campaign

ROCKVILLE, Md. - The Maryland State Education Association has filed a complaint against Doug Gansler’s campaign, saying the gubernatorial candidate’s representatives were handing out material at the polls that ripped off literature made up by the Montgomery County Education Association.

Gansler, Maryland’s attorney general, is in a hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination for governor with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County is also running.

The MSEA filed the complaint in Rockville District Court Tuesday afternoon, asking for a temporary restraining order to block the Gansler campaign from using the materials. A judge denied the request.

 Adam Mendelson, spokesman for the MSEA, said Gansler representatives were handing out material made up to look like the association’s apple ballots, which list all of the candidates the MSEA is endorsing. The MSEA has endorsed Brown for governor.

"While the judge did not grant the temporary restraining order, we understand that the courts rarely grant TROs in the heat of an election," Mendelson said. "The judge will still rule on the merits of the case and he will hold a hearing at a later date. We will continue legal action to protect our trademark." 

Mendelson said the association has gotten reports that the literature is being handed out at eight different locations.

David E. Helfman, executive director for the MSEA, sent the Gansler campaign a letter Monday, asking it to stop using the materials.

“The Montgomery County Education Association is the registrant of both the apple and the use of ‘Teacher Recommended’ since 2009,” Helfman said in the letter. “The use of the marks or anything similar …by anyone other than MCEA results in clear infringement because of the obvious confusion and deception that will result.”

A spokesman for the Gansler campaign said the accusations are baseless, and said the MSEA’s actions are just Election Day antics.  

"Contrary to what the union claims, there's no issue with us passing out campaign literature," spokeswoman Katie Hill said. "This is just an Election Day stunt by union bosses who have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Anthony Brown's campaign."

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