ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was one of Barack Obama’s top fundraisers in 2012, raising more than $1 million for his re-election campaign and supporting the president regularly on political talk shows. Now, O’Malley is finding out what it’s like to be on Obama’s bad side.
Days after O’Malley criticized a White House proposal to deal with the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, reports surfaced of a leaked phone call between the governor and a top Obama aide. The details appeared to make O’Malley look like a hypocrite on the matter, publicly criticizing the White House’s calls to speed up deportations of children arriving on the border, while pleading with the administration to not send the young people to one site in his state.
The incident marks a rare public skirmish between the president and a member of his own party who has made no secret of his possible 2016 presidential ambitions. On Wednesday, O’Malley publicly accused the White House of leaking the conversation.
“I don’t really care,” O’Malley told reporters Wednesday, when asked about the leak. “It’s right, and treating these children in the manner in which they’re being treated now is wrong, and as Americans we have to all do our part to alleviate this humanitarian crisis, and perhaps ... now the president has the room to call upon faith leaders to be a part of the solution.”
O’Malley aides emphasized that recommending against locating children at one location did not mean the governor opposes housing the children in Maryland. On Monday, the O’Malley administration took steps to formally create a licensing process for providers to help the children in Maryland after weeks of working on the matter.
While O’Malley’s administration has said it’s working to find temporary shelters for immigrant children arriving from Central America, he asked the White House in a private conversation not to send the children to one of the sites that had been under consideration, according to a source familiar with the conversation. The conversation between O’Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz took place late Friday evening. The person familiar with the content of the call said O’Malley told Munoz that the facility in Westminster, Maryland, was in a conservative part of the state, and the children were at risk of getting harassed or worse. The source insisted on anonymity in order to publicly discuss the private conversation.
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