Judicial Watch Pushes Ethics Investigation for MD Governor O'Malley

Judicial Watch Pushes Ethics Investigation for MD Governor O'Malley

Recently, after Maryland Governor O’Malley signed off on a twisted and “comical” (to use the Washington Post description) gerrymandered congressional district plan, Judicial Watch successfully fought alongside MDPetitions.com to put the map on the ballot as well. 

Judicial Watch had previously waged a successful battle on behalf of MDPetitions.com to put taxpayer-funded tuition breaks for illegal aliens on the ballot in 2012, after illegal alien special interests tried to silence the voters on the matter.

Now, Judicial Watch is focusing on a charge of corruption within the Governor’s office. According to a Judicial Watch investigation, it appears Governor O’Malley improperly used official office resources for personal and political purposes, which is a big “no-no” according to state law. On September 24, 2012, we sent a letter to the Chairman of the Maryland State Ethics Commission reviewing the evidence against the Maryland Governor and asking for an investigation.

But before we get into the facts of the case, here’s what the law [Section 15-506 of the State Government Article of the Maryland Code] states: “An official or employee may not intentionally use the prestige of office or public position for that official’s or employee’s private gain or that of another.”

Because so much turns on the technical assessment of these terms, let’s define a couple of them. The Governor of Maryland is certainly a public position, yes? And “private gain” obviously includes personal political objectives, such as seeing a favored candidate win or achieving a desired election result on a ballot question.

Now emphasizing the importance of this legal provision at a critical time (an election year), the State Ethics Commission sent a memorandum on January 4, 2012, to all state employees, board members and candidates, stating:  “As a practical matter, [Section 15-506] prohibits the use of State time, materials, equipment, or facilities for political purposes.”

“Materials” as described above would obviously include official State letterhead, wouldn’t you agree?

Okay, good. Now that we’re straight on the law, here is what Governor O’Malley did.

On September 18, 2012, Governor O’Malley sent a letter – on his official state letterhead, complete with the Great Seal of the State of Maryland – to the members of the Democratic State Central Committee (the governing body of the state Democratic Party).

In that letter, Governor O’Malley wrote the following:

I don’t need to remind you how important this election is. Whether it’s protecting the investments we make together in our schools, re-electing Senator Cardin, Congressman Van Hollen, and President Obama, or helping elect a new Democratic Congressional majority by sending John Delaney to Congress – the work we do together during this election cycle will determine what type of work we’re able to do together for the people of our State in the years to come.

I’m writing to ask not only for your vote, but for your voice.

Governor O’Malley also specifically asked each recipient to campaign for certain questions on the November 2012 ballot as well – for upending traditional marriage, for more legalized gambling, for gerrymandered congressional districts, and for special taxpayer-paid tuition benefits for certain illegal aliens. 

In sum, as we detail in our complaint, “Governor O’Malley used his official letterhead to reach out to Marylanders and ask them to vote for specific political candidates and for specific ballot questions.” 

We are requesting an investigation and a hearing to review the matter. Now, again, to me this seems like a slam dunk case. I only hope the Maryland State Ethics Commission proves more capable than the House Ethics Committee at meting out justice.


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