UPDATE: CASA de Maryland, the illegal immigrant advocacy group described below, has retained Joseph E. Sandler, the radical left’s hit-lawyer, who threatened to sue Fox News over Beck, Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer for telling the truth about CAIR, and who helped create a bunch of phony tea party groups in an effort to undermine the movement.
It was Sandler, on behalf of CASA, who picked up a list of petition-signers’ to repeal Maryland’s DREAM Act. They are DESPERATE. Marylanders have had enough! Read on.
The DREAM Act, granting in-state tuition and other special privileges to illegal aliens was defeated in Congress last year, but Maryland, a sanctuary state, was able to pass its own version (SB 167) in April. This was managed by intense lobbying from the far leftwing illegal immigrant advocate organization, CASA de Maryland – which receives millions from the state – and a blizzard of legislative contortions.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has made illegal immigrants his new BFFs for the tantalizing political power they offer. He has created a state-sponsored organization, the Maryland Council for New Americans (illegals), and meets regularly with the Hispanic lobby behind closed doors. Many Democrat legislators at all levels of government support this.
But Marylanders who have to pay the tab for Mr. O’Malley’s pandering are outraged. About three-quarters of Maryland’s $2 billion structural deficit is due to provision of various services for illegal immigrants, according to the government’s own figures, compiled by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. This new law just piles on more.
A petition drive to put the DREAM act to referendum on the 2012 ballot was launched almost immediately following passage of SB 167 by Delegate Neil Parrott (MD Dist. 2B), with the support and assistance of Delegates Pat McDonough (MD Dist 7) and Mike Smigiel (MD Dist 36).
Under state law, legislation can be challenged by signature petition of 3 percent (55,736) of registered voters. The law is then placed on hold and decided in the next statewide election.
With widespread sentiment against giving tax breaks to those in this country illegally – from Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites and young and old alike – petitioners seemed likely to be able to deliver almost double the required signatures by the June 30th deadline. At last count, over 67,000 signatures had been obtained.
What has followed is an astounding description of harassment and intimidation by CASA de Maryland, and criminal abuse of power by this state’s corrupt Democrat machine.
Almost from the beginning, CASA activists and others have harassed petitioners wherever they set up. Here is a partial list of their tactics:
- They stand between petitioners and citizens trying to sign petitions and block access to the signing table
- They plead with signers not to sign
- They stand around and glower threateningly
- They scream racist and other obscene epithets in petitioners’ faces
- One petitioner was reportedly spat at
- $12/hour rent-a-thugs from a group called “Field Works” shadow petitioners and reports their locations
- They hand out “Think Before You Ink” flyers with misleading information about the petition
Saturday, however, took the cake. CASA activists at a number of locations called police on the petitioners, who were legally there collecting signatures. The police threw the petitioners out. As one related:
We were forced to leave the Essex MVA (Motor Vehicles) today. A Latinawoman stood for a long while watching us and looked angry. Then she got on the phone and shortly after police came and told us to leave immediately. It’s absolutely Orwell’s 1984. O’Malley rules this state through corruption and intimidation!
The ACLU has gotten into the act as well to challenge the use of online petition ballots, even though they have defended such use in other states. The hypocrisy of this organization stinks to the heavens.
But it gets even worse.
For a petition drive to succeed in Maryland, the ballot has to be filled in perfectly. No hanging chads allowed here. If your voter information is not precisely identical to that on your voter registration – even if the registration information is incorrect – your ballot will be discounted. There are many other hoops to jump through as well.
The State Board of Elections (SBOE) has certified 47,288 of the total of 55,736 signatures needed, and say they won’t certify any more until the petition drive is completed on June 30th.
SBOE’s first stunner was its announcement that it would be counting and reviewing ballots behind closed doors, a questionable practice at best.
Next they announced they would be handing over all of the original ballots to CASA de Maryland for the group to copy and review on June 27 – today, that is – even before the petition drive closes. The Board added that petition supporters could not witness CASA making these copies.
They ultimately changed their minds about that. However, they have already forwarded all the counted petitions to CASA electronically! SBOE provided CASA a disk containing names and addresses of signatories last Thursday. And they do intend to provide CASA with the original documents eventually. Having the names and addresses is bad enough, but the original petitions include signatures.
SBOE is statutorily required to release petitions to interested organizations, but this does not bode well.
Think illegal, think alien, think ID theft, think abusive radical Left organization – retaining names, addresses and signatures of over 50,000 Maryland residents. Is harassment and intimidation of individuals beyond them? Their very act of taking the petitions is a threat given what they have already done.
A lot of people will be justifiably worried about their personal information going to such a collection of untrustworthy people. And it appears that is just what CASA is hoping for, because they are now offering petition signers a way out.
An organization CASA invented for this purpose called One Maryland Defense.com implores readers to “remove your name” from the petition drive. They also created the above-referenced “Think Before You Ink” flyers. Just like the original online petition, you can now download, print and send in a new flier that says:
TO THE MARYLANDSTATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS:
I believe I previously signed a petition to put Senate Bill 167–Public Institutions of Higher Education–Tuition Rates–Exemptions–to a referendum.
Pursuant to section 6-203(c)(1) of the Election Law Article, I hereby apply to the State Board of Elections to remove my name from this petition.
The catch is, they don’t provide an address to send the retraction to. Where the address is supposed to be, it just says “COMING SOON.” According to section 6-203(c)(1), the signed retraction must be received before the petition, but since the drive ends in three days, and there is no address to send the retraction to, that won’t happen.
So what’s the point?
It appears to be simply yet another intimidation tactic to discourage new signers. However, there is no date requested on the retraction form either, further confusing the process.
Is it possible that CASA would even go so far as to create phony documents, forge signatures using the original petitions once they gain possession and backdate documents to invalidate petitions? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t put anything past these people.
A big question is: where is the Maryland GOP on all this? There is provision in the law to deny inspection of signatures to organizations or individuals if the SBOE believes inspection would cause “substantial injury to the public interest.” Here is the relevant portion of Maryland code (emphasis added):
10-619. Temporary Denials
(a) Substantial Inquiry to Public Interest
Whenever this Part III of this subtitle authorizes inspection of a public record but the official custodian believes that inspection would cause substantial injury to the public interest, the official custodian may deny inspection temporarily.
(b) Court Petition
(1) Within 10 working days after the denial, the official custodian shall petition a court to order permitting the continued denial of inspection.
(2) The petition shall be filed with the circuit court for the county where:
(i) the public record is located; or
(ii) the principal place of business of the official custodian is located.
(3) The petition shall be served on the applicant, as provided in the Maryland Rules.
(c) Right of Applicant
The applicant is entitled to appear and to be heard on the petition.
(d) Court Order
If, after the hearing, the court finds that
inspection of the public record would cause
substantial injury to the public interest, the
court may pass an appropriate order permitting
the continued denial of inspection.”
A request signed by interested Maryland delegates could prevent further access by CASA at least temporarily and show the other side that we will fight when they try to pull these stunts.
If CASA and the Democrats are able to prevent this popular referendum, their success will set a precedent for police state tactics formerly unheard of in the U.S. Please contact the Board of Elections and your state representatives and demand they request a temporary denial of access to the actual ballots for CASA de Maryland. Contact the O’Malley administration to protest their thuggish behavior and spread this news far and wide.