TODAY   |  October 25, 2013

Maryland AG on teen party flap: ‘I got that wrong'

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who was photographed at a party where teens were drinking, says he should have assumed they were consuming alcohol and not Kool-Aid. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>> the attorney general of maryland finds himself at the center of a controversy. a photo shows him at a house party where underage drinking was taking place. pete williams picks up the story from there. good morning to you.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning. this is becoming an issue not just because he is running for governor but he is also state attorney general and underage drinking is illegal. he now says perhaps he should have done more. there in the middle of what was apparently a party for recent high school graduates stands doug gantzler holding a cell phone reading a text message. he said he stepped by the beach house to tell his 19-year-old son about plans for the next day and although the party was in bethany beach delaware, he said he should have done more than simply leave.

>> perhaps i should have assumed there was drinking going on and i got that wrong. what i can tell you was that at no time while i was in the house did i see any teenager in any danger or any risk.

>> gentzler told the baltimore sun he didn't stop the party because he had no moral authority over other people's children. some people at the party say underaged drinking was going on. gentzler says he doesn't know.

>> there could be kool-aid but probably beer.

>> reporter: the minimum drinking age is 21 including for alcohol and beer. he says gentzler had a obligation to shut the party down.

>> the fact that he would actually support an underage drinking party was law because it's breaking the law .

>> reporter: it's especially embarrassing for gentzler who lead cam paints against underaged drinking.

>> it's never too early to talk to your kids about smart ways to say no.

>> reporter: the incident touched off a national conversation . should parents control or prevent teen drinking .

>> a third of the audience said the drinking is going to take place and the kids are better served meaning they're safer if there's parental involvement .

>> reporter: he says the organizers of the party kept it inside the rented beach house with adult chaperones on hand and says how much do you let them go? how much do you reign them in?