Tag Archives: Maryland corruption

Governor Hogan Declares War on Corruption

Maryland_Governor_Budget-0ef63-620Governor Larry HoganGovernor Larry Hogan declared war on the Culture of Corruption in Annapolis today by introducing his Integrity in Government Initiative.

You can watch all of Governor Hogan’s press conference here.

Integrity in Government Initiative – January 19, 2017

To say that Governor Hogan’s proposed reforms are much needed would be a bold understatement. In light of the issues surrounding corruption that have been exposed in recent weeks, these changes are both unfortunate but also necessary in order to ensure that the people of Maryland can have faith that both the executive and legislative branches of Government are responsive to peoples needs.

The Public Integrity Act will finally put some sort of restrictions on lobbying by legislators, former legislators, and former executive branch employees, as well as appointees to executive branch commissions. This legislation was certainly influenced by the corrupt deals made by Delegate Dan Morhaim as he worked for marijuana legislation that would further enrich him in his second job. So much corruption in Annapolis revolves around the lobbying and lobbyists, and the restrictions on lobbying as well holding members of the General Assembly accountable to the State Ethics Commission creates a more even playing field that should root out the remaining corruption in the General Assembly.

The Legislative Transparency Act is something that is so basic and so easy to do that it should be a no-brainer. Most citizens do not have the time to travel to Annapolis to ensure to see what their Delegates and Senators are doing. The idea that any citizen can watch the proceedings of the General Assembly live or at a time of their convenience gives voters the opportunity to see exactly how their General Assembly members vote and how they behave on the floor of the General Assembly. This will give people the chance to see exactly what happens whether its during regular session or whether its middle of the night shenanigans that has occurred in the past.

The Liquor Board Reform Act is a master stroke that ensures that State Senators and members of local political parties can no longer put political party apparatchiks into positions of power as Liquor Board Commissioners. It’s the last remnant of the old boy network that used to govern Maryland for decades, when State Senators controlled all political patronage in their county.

The Redistricting Reform Act is something that we at Red Maryland have supported for a long time. You can read about our previous writing on redistricting here.

So what are the chances that any of the Governor’s initiatives get passed by the General Assembly? Slim and none. Democrats in Annapolis are more interested in political games and ensuring the status quo than they are passing meaningful reform to protect Maryland from political corruption. They certainly do not want to cut off the spigot of opportunities open to Maryland Democrats They won’t seek to subject themselves to the higher standard of behavior and ethics that Governor Hogan seek for government officials in Maryland. They certainly do not want to relinquish the last vestiges of patronage remaining to senior elected officials and party leaders. Nor will Democrats wish to subject themselves to Redistricting Reform that  will invariably wind up in more equal legislative and congressional districts that could mean tougher re-election campaigns and large Republican gains in the House and the Senate.

So we should all expect Maryland Democrats to oppose the Integrity in Government Initiative because it’s not in their political or financial interests to do so.

We should, however, applaud Governor Hogan for putting forth this kind of meaningful legislation. While Democrats try to play political games, the Governor is putting forward legislation that will fix the culture of corruption in Annapolis once and for all. Let us hope that those who oppose this type of common sense legislation for their own personal benefit do so at their own political peril.

Read more at http://redmaryland.com/2017/01/governor-hogan-declares-war-on-corruption/maryland-map

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Hogan warns that a ‘culture of corruption’ could be taking root in Annapolis

Larry Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan poses with a bill during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis during the last legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared Thursday that the State House was at risk of succumbing to a “culture of corruption” and proposed a package of bills he said would help weed out unethical behavior and improve public trust.

Hogan’s Integrity in Government Initiative comes in the wake of recent scandals in Annapolis, including the guilty plea of a former state lawmaker who admitted to accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for official favors and the indictment of a Baltimore Democrat, who had been nominated for a General Assembly seat, on charges of violating campaign finance laws.

The guilty plea, entered by former delegate William A. Campos (D-Prince George’s), was a result of an ongoing bribery probe centered on liquor sales in Prince George’s County. Federal prosecutors say additional elected officials in Annapolis have been implicated.

“We cannot allow the unethical behavior of the few to tarnish the goodwill of the many in our state capital,” Hogan said during a news conference in front of the State House. “Marylanders are now asking how many more public officials have to be indicted before we are finally going to take the actions necessary to clean up this mess.”

Hogan offered few specifics about the legislation he would propose. But he said he wanted to make it harder for lawmakers to influence bills affecting industries in which they have a financial interest and also wanted legislators accused of ethics violations to be investigated by the State Ethics Commission, rather than the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

 Sen. James E. “Ed” DeGrange III (D-Anne Arundel), who co-chairs that committee, pushed back against Hogan’s characterization of the state capital and defended his panel, saying the lawmakers do hold their colleagues accountable.

In recent years, the committee recommended reprimanding a delegate for pushing a law that would have helped him regain his real estate license and stripping Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) of committee assignments for failing to disclose his work consulting for a grocery chain. In 1998, the committee recommended the expulsion of a senator accused of misusing his office for private gain.

“I’m baffled why he would think that legislators can’t do their job as they’ve done many times before,” DeGrange said.

“To say there’s a culture of corruption in Annapolis is just beyond me,” he said. “It’s no different than any other profession, if you will. You’ll have a percentage, which is a very small percentage, that don’t do things right, and those things are addressed as they come up.”

But with the federal bribery investigation still underway and speculation rampant in the capital about who else may be involved, Hogan’s proposals seemed likely to gain traction.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) released statements saying they looked forward to working with the governor on ethics reform, which Miller said would be a “major topic in the 2017 legislative session.”

Miller and Busch declined to answer questions about the governor’s proposals on Thursday, saying they had not seen the legislation.

 Hogan said he wants to overhaul how liquor board commissioners are chosen in Maryland, which he called one of the “last vestiges of the patronage system.” The federal probe includes bribery charges against then-Prince George’s liquor board commissioner Anuj Sud and commission executive director David Son.

Under current rules, local party central committees, along with local senators, recommend liquor board members to the governor, who appoints the boards. Hogan proposed removing the party committees from the process and requiring nominees to undergo criminal background checks.

Hogan also said he had allocated $1.2 million in the state budget to allow all General Assembly meetings to be live-streamed. Maryland is one of only seven states not to provide that service already, he said.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, the executive director of Common Cause, applauded the move, noting that her group long has pushed to have legislative meetings publicly broadcast. “There is a possibility that we will see a dozen bills that Common Cause has worked on for five or 10 years presented with a bow on it, and that is incredibly exciting,” she said.

But Bevan-Dangel also said she was eager to see more details of the legislation. “It is a little ironic that a press conference on transparency did not have transparency, including details on the legislation,” she said.

Hogan’s ethics reform proposals appear aimed in part at addressing a controversy surrounding the legislature’s foremost champion of medical marijuana, who continued pushing for bills related to the industry after being hired as a consultant to a medical marijuana business.

State ethics laws generally allow lawmakers to vote on bills that broadly affect the industry in which they work, and Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) has maintained he did nothing wrong because none of his legislative actions was specific to the dispensary in which he was involved.