Women’s Democratic Club President Responds to Cooper

The following piece by Fran Rothstein, President of the Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club, is a response to Jordan Cooper’s critique of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s (MCDCC) recent actions.

As a lifelong Democrat and a 36-year resident of Montgomery County, I must protest Jordan Cooper’s recent opinion piece, “Montgomery County Democrats make a mockery of democracy.”

I know what a mockery of democracy looks like, and Montgomery County isn’t it.  I grew up in Washington DC, where my parents were completely disenfranchised. They couldn’t even vote for President until 1964. I grew up with no home rule at all.  Even today, Washingtonians remain scandalously unable to participate fully in our democracy.

Contrary to Mr. Cooper’s assertion that “the Democratic Party of Maryland has long prioritized the party above the public interest,” I see exactly the opposite in today’s State and County Party.

At the State level, Maryland Democratic Party chair Kathleen Matthews has worked tirelessly to reach out to the many new activists who have come together in new groups since the 2016 election.  Some of these activists are outspoken Democrats; others are progressives active in new nonpartisan but progressive organizations.  She has met with them, she’s invited them into the Party’s big tent, and quite a few of them have joined the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC), which I lead.

At the County level, rather than the “gross abuse of the public trust” Mr. Cooper sees, I see a Democratic Central Committee striving to expand voter choice in selecting our representation.  I happened to be at the most recent Central Committee meeting, when the Committee became the first in Maryland to endorse Del. David Moon’s legislative proposal to create special elections to fill a General Assembly vacancies.  Why is this important?  If passed, a state Senator or Delegate vacancy in the first year of a term would trigger a special election, rather than being filled by Central Committee appointment as is now the practice.  (When a vacancy occurs later in a term, the Central Committee would make a temporary appointment, with a special election held during the next Presidential election, thus avoiding the cost of a special election when a regularly scheduled election is on the horizon.)

The vote that seems to have prompted Mr. Cooper’s protestation was the adoption of a proposal to restrict candidates from running on the same ballot for a government office as well as the Central Committee.  This makes great sense, for several reasons.  First, it would avoid the possibility that a candidate may – intentionally or not – use public financing and traditional financing simultaneously.  Second, it avoids the possibility of conflicts of interest that would inevitably arise should one person hold both positions.  And third, from my perspective, is that it opens up more opportunities for the many newly energized Democrats to serve in leadership positions.

Personally, I appreciate the County Central Committee leadership’s willingness – indeed, enthusiasm – to engage in collaborative efforts.  Among many examples, the Central Committee and WDC are working together to recruit and train precinct officials, a critically important function.  Precinct officials are the ones who rally local residents to vote – certainly the essence of a strong democracy.

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Joel Rubin Launches Campaign for Delegate

Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember is launching his campaign for the Democratic nomination for delegate in District 18 this Sunday. Recently, he sent out the following postcard:


A former assistant secretary at the State Department who frequently comments on national security issues for national news networks, Rubin’s campaign issued the following press release on Russian interference in Maryland elections:

Maryland District 18 Delegate Candidate Joel Rubin Calls on Maryland Officials to Protect the Integrity of 2018 Midterm Elections.

For Immediate Release:

Joel Rubin, Candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates (District 18) and a former senior national security official in the Obama Administration, today calls on Governor Hogan, the State Board of Elections, and the Maryland Attorney General to take immediate steps to ensure the integrity of the 2018 elections, beginning with the June 26th primary. Now that Governor Hogan has made Russian meddling in Maryland’s elections a partisan issue, it’s incumbent upon Maryland’s Democrats to make it clear that he must protect the integrity of our elections, rather than blindly follow the position of President Trump, who is laying us bare to continued Russian attack.

“As we learned from this week’s U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, despite the unanimous view of our intelligence chiefs that Russia is planning to attack our 2018 elections, President Trump is not ordering countermeasures to ensure that our most basic right as Americans – the right to vote – will be protected this year. This is a national security crisis. With Russian influence operations continuing unabated, the responsibility to protect our democracy now falls squarely to the states in a manner that goes beyond the traditional state responsibilities of guaranteeing proper voting rights, procedures and election integrity.”

“This means that the states are now responsible for rebutting cyber attacks by a hostile foreign power, a role traditionally assumed by the federal government. Therefore, I am calling on Governor Hogan, State Election Board Chair David McManus, and Attorney General Brian Frosh to immediately take the steps necessary for ensuring the integrity of our vote. They should also inform the legislature of any additional authority or funding needed to get the job done, and the legislature should immediately approve it.”

“Election security and justice require several steps. It is past time that they are taken. For instance, it is worth recalling that professors at the University of Maryland demonstrated that machines that were in use in Maryland just a few years ago were easily hacked. I urge our state’s leaders to consult the University and other authorities, such as cybersecurity experts, civil rights organizations, and others who have provided poll watchers and legal assistance in recent years, regarding the steps they would recommend be taken to strengthen our election security. This is an existential fight for both our state and our nation.”

Rubin, a Council Member in the Town of Chevy Chase, has worked for nearly two decades in national security, including as a senior official in the Obama Administration’s State Department and in the U.S. Congress. He believes that when our country is under attack, and our federal government fails to live up to its responsibilities, that it is incumbent upon the state government to fill the gap in order to protect its citizens.

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Ed Kimmel: Sex Discrimination at MCDCC

Today, Seventh State is pleased to present “Sex Discrimination at MCDCC” by Edward Kimmel, the first of a short series of posts on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s (MCDCC) decision to switch to separate elections for male and female members of the committee.

Democrats who read all the way down to the bottom of the ballot in June, 2018 will discover  that the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee has divided itself into “male candidates” and “female candidates.   Most will think nothing of the fact that Homer cannot run against Marge.  But I believe that this is a huge step backwards in the quest to end sex discrimination.

I protested this in a piece on Facebook.  There, I warned that such blatant, de jure discrimination that would be enforced by the  Board of Elections (obviously, an agency of the State of Maryland) was almost certainly illegal.   I took down once I saw a Fourth Circuit opinion that upheld Maryland’s rule that half of the national convention delegates must be male and half female.   Although that opinion found that the Fourteenth Amendments restrictions against sex discrimination must be balanced against the amount of the imposition upon the First Amendment’s protection of free association, the fact that a voter who wanted to vote for only one gender of delegates suffered little because the voter’s principle decision was to vote for one candidate or another.  That tipped the balance in favor of keeping its hands off of the party’s delegate-gender rules.

I was hugely disappointed to find that political parties are, generally, beyond the reach of heightened scrutiny of governmental sorting of the sexes.  Anti-discrimination laws that would prohibit golf clubs from obtaining tax exemptions if they have too many “men only” golf tournaments would likely not prevent MCDCC “men only” elections for seats on the “government” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County.

So I gave up trying to warn them that what they are doing is illegal.  Courts might well strike down their system – there are no controlling opinions on elections that absolutely forbid elections that pit men against women – but I was shocked to find that generally, courts that will allow girls to play on the boy’s football team are reluctant to declare that competition between male politicians and female candidates may be made illegal.

That shifts the debate to “why?”   Why does the Democratic Party of Montgomery County want to ban inter-gender competition in 2018?

They say that this is their attempt to comply with the Democratic National Committee’s  “Equal Division Rule” that requires that governing bodies of Democratic state and local parties have equal numbers of male and female members.   For years, they have been achieving “gender balance” on MCDCC by waiting until after the election and then adding some extra members of the gender that lost.  As if to prove that the entire notion of second guessing the voters by diluting their choice with some appointed members, sometimes this has required them to add men and sometimes they have had to add women to achieve “gender balance.”

Not many comments on my now-deleted thread attempted to defend the policy.  Some said that compliance with the DNC’s Equal Division Rule was mandatory so that debate was nugatory.  Some said that under the system of appointing new members of the MCDCC to bring the committee into balance, the number of members had swelled from the statutory 24 members to more than 30, a situation that will be corrected if men who resigned are only replaced by men and women with women – without addressing why they couldn’t do that before.

But mostly, they reacted with rage, ad hominem attacks and outright defamation.  An officer of a state-wide Democratic organization said he was disappointed with me for suggesting that “separate is inherently not equal.”  He said that as an attorney, I “knew” that the Supreme Court was stating that segregated schools could not be equal because the minority schools were dingy and not maintained at the same level as majority schools were and that this was inapplicable here because male members and female members would serve in the same quarters.

I beg to differ.

I believe that what SCOTUS was saying was that the act of categorizing along discriminatory lines is what makes them unequal.   Drawing a line between black students and white students was what placed the stigma.  Asserting that there is a reason to sort blacks from whites is, by itself, illegal discrimination.

And so it is with gender.  Pretending that there is something about ovaries or testicles that causes a person to make better/worse/different policy decisions is, itself, a slanderous statement.

Finally, I don’t believe that it is women who will have seats preserved on any Democratic body this year.  Although, as the courts have noted without presentation of evidence, the population at-large may be presumed to be about equally split between males and females, I don’t think that is true of Democrats and especially not of active, working Democratic activists.   My view may have been skewed by the fact that I have been among the most active Hillary Clinton supporters over the past ten years, but the events I have been to have been dominated by women.   Saying that the voters will not be allowed to elect seventy or eighty percent female leaders of our party may well be what keeps a certain amount of men at the table.

It is time to allow Democratic voters to decide who they want to lead them.

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Moon Explains Failure of Country Club Tax Break Bill

By Adam Pagnucco.

In the wake of the failure of his bill that would have phased out a special property tax break for MoCo country clubs, the Facebook page of Delegate David Moon (D-20) saw an eruption of commenters expressing outrage, disbelief and mockery.  (Some raised the prospect of starting country clubs in their back yards to get similar tax breaks.)  In response to repeated requests, Moon analyzed the arguments against his bill and told the story of how it died.  Moon’s account contains references to a well-intended amendment by Delegate Eric Luedtke (D-14), who tried to narrow the bill to allow it to pass.  But he also describes the tactics used by a lobbyist hired by the clubs to kill the bill which demonstrate just how far some special interests will go to protect what they have been granted by government.  We intend to find out what that lobbyist was paid when reports come due.

We reprint Moon’s breakdown of the arguments against his bill below.

*****

Let me finally try and add some detail to this bill.

Argument 1 – Treating MoCo Differently Than Other Counties: The bill as originally introduced repealed these tax breaks for all of Montgomery County’s golf courses. State law doesn’t allow counties to asses property differently from one another, so the bill needed a constitutional amendment (subject to approval by voters), to give MoCo permission to repeal the Country Club tax breaks. Some people (including Ike Leggett) argued that MoCo shouldn’t be taxing country clubs differently from other counties. I found that argument unpersuasive, as MoCo has a majority of the state’s country clubs receiving this tax break. Additionally, MoCo loses far more money from this tax break than other counties. This is because in 2002, state law created a flat fee for country club assessments at $1,000 an acre. The problem with that is that in MoCo, many of our country clubs are sitting on land worth between $300,000 and $1 million per acre. You will not find that scenario in any other county, as their land is worth far less. So the flat fee seriously harms counties with valuable land. I offered one amendment to change the bill to simply say the county should decide the country club tax assessments, since they are the ones losing money from this. That amendment failed narrowly. But even still, some people simply had a problem with amending the state constitution to fix this problem. I honestly don’t care what the mechanism is to address the issue (we inserted slot machines into our state constitution, for example). I also have a statewide bill (HB 1340) that addresses this issue by changing the $1,000/acre assessment to 1% of market value, to account for the different land values in Maryland. A few of my colleagues suggested this issue should be taken up as a statewide measure and didn’t think it made sense as a local bill. But to be honest, one of the reasons I did both a local bill and a statewide bill is that it will likely be far more difficult to persuade lawmakers from around the state to fix this broken system. It now remains to be seen whether lawmakers who opposed my MoCo bill on the grounds of treating all the counties the same will now support the statewide bill. I will forward the state bill to the County Executive to see if it now addresses his stated concerns.

Argument 2 – Some Country Clubs Are In Poor Financial Shape: A common argument made against my bill is that of the 15 or 16 MoCo golf courses receiving this tax break, not all had wealthy members. Some argued that they were teetering on the brink of closure and would shut down if this bill passed. The country club lobbyist got all the janitors and service staff from the clubs to come to Annapolis and tell lawmakers they would all be fired if the bill passed. It was a true spectacle. I tried to counter this argument with amendments to make the bill more need-based. I proposed that we cap the tax discount at the first $400,000 per acre of market value, so that almost all of the clubs would be unaffected except for the super wealthy ones that charge huge initiation fees ($40,000 to $70,000 just to join). The country club lobbyist opposed this and other amendments. Basically, they were saying this would put courses out of business, but when we proposed amendments to make that not the case, the lobbyist opposed those fixes, too. Nice move! To be fair to my House colleagues, they never had an opportunity to vote for this version of the bill, because we didn’t adopt the narrowing amendments in subcommittee.

Argument 3 – Country Clubs Provide Jobs & Do Charitable Work: Another routine argument during this debate was that the country clubs employ people and let charities use their facilities. My response here is that plenty of entities employ people and do charitable work AND pay their taxes. But what this argument really turns on, is the idea that passing this bill would put the clubs out of business. As I noted above, I had an amendment to address that issue, but the country club lobbyist (who was formerly a State Senator who sponsored the bill for country club tax cuts) opposed the amendment. Come on now.

Argument 4 – Open Space & Those Evil Developers!: Yet another frequently cited argument against my bill was that the country clubs would close and lead to rampant development. The Sierra Club ought to go do a membership drive at country clubs, because apparently there are hundreds of open space conservation activists at country clubs, and we didn’t know it! Kidding aside, there are a number of reasons why this is a flawed argument. First, it assumes that country clubs will close BECAUSE OF this bill. As I noted above, I offered to amend the bill to exclude clubs that are not wealthy. Second, you would have to believe that a wealthy club with hundreds of acres of land worth $1 million/acre and waiting list to join would shut the entire club over a tax bill increase in the thousands. As some have noted, the wealthy clubs could simply add some members or sell a tiny piece of their land IF this was really an issue (and I doubt it is, with the amendments I offered). Moreover, the teetering country clubs are in trouble because there is a generational shift away from golf being a popular hobby. We didn’t throw money at Blockbuster or Tower Records to keep those businesses open when the market shifted on them, but then again, their customers were not wealthy and politically influential people. Additionally, nothing would stop the county from exercising its zoning and staging authority over a failed country club, and I would be willing to bet that’s exactly what would happen if one of these clubs failed. Let’s also be clear that even if you don’t like development, only ONE of these clubs was in the Ag Reserve, and Eric Luedtke offered an amendment which I supported to exclude that club (it was rejected). Many of the clubs inside the beltway are in areas of the county that are zoned for development (not open space), per the master plans that guide county development. If people have a problem with that, they should argue for extending the Ag Reserve to the DC border, near highway exits and transit (an absurd policy proposition). Given that many of these inside-the-beltway clubs are located in highly desirable school districts, this amounts to an argument for residents who are privileged enough to live in the W cluster keeping out others who also want the privilege to live there. The tax implications of this de facto development moratorium are far greater than $10 million a year for the county. Moreover, a supermajority of MoCo lawmakers also cosponsored the bill to drop 50,000 Amazon workers onto the county without worrying about the development implications. But remember once again, that there were amendments offered to take this development issue off the table.

When I first embarked on this effort to rein in country club tax breaks, I thought this would be a simple bill. Boy was I wrong! I now know more than I could’ve imagined about this issue, and the more I learn the more I’m convinced that this situation is seriously messed up. I’ll be back with more legislation on this issue next year, including looking at how we enforce the anti-discrimination provisions regarding country clubs and pesticide restrictions for clubs receiving these tax breaks (since the environmental, open space argument is being made!).

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating podcast on this topic.

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Madaleno Announces Running Mate

Luwanda Jenkins and Rich Madaleno

Here is the press release from the Madaleno campaign:

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Rich Madaleno Selects Baltimore Native, Luwanda Jenkins, as Running Mate

BALTIMORE, Md.—Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Richard Madaleno announced today his selection of Baltimore native Luwanda Walker Jenkins as his running mate.

Jenkins, 55, has a record of results from her extensive work in the public and private sectors to expand opportunity for all Marylanders, especially women and minorities.

“Luwanda and I are committed to making Maryland the state that will be known for its high quality of life, progressive values and wider access to opportunity for all,” Madaleno said. “Luwanda shares my values and sensible vision for Maryland’s future and will strengthen my administration’s ability to achieve my goals, especially in the areas of economic development and expanding small business development for minorities and women.”

The announcement was held at Western High School in Baltimore, the city’s all-girls public high school that she attended. “Western set the foundation for my support for a strong public education system and to do whatever I can to help families achieve the American dream,” Jenkins said.

“I’m thrilled to join Rich. My entire career has been about leveraging opportunity to make a better quality of life for Marylanders. I’m excited to travel across the state and share our ticket’s plan for action and engage Marylanders in how to make our state better,” she said.

Jenkins said she would focus on four main areas: improving K-12 public education, especially for high-poverty communities, and ensuring more college affordability and access; reducing wealth inequities; growing women- and minority-owned small businesses; and ensuring gender equity to increase Maryland’s competitiveness.

“Between our shared progressive vision for Maryland, my budget and finance mastery, and Luwanda’s economic development and community relations expertise, we’ve got a winning team,” Madaleno said.

A Madaleno-Jenkins vision for Maryland presents a stark contrast to Gov. Larry Hogan’s agenda.

“Our vision focuses on improving the quality of life for all Marylanders and making sure that people and communities with the most needs actually get the help they need to succeed. We will work to strengthen communities—from urban centers like Baltimore to rural areas on the Eastern Shore and in western Maryland—and make wise budgetary decisions that will make positive change but won’t break the state treasury,” Madaleno said.

Jenkins has wide experience in the public and private sectors. Most recently, Jenkins has been the chief operating officer of the LEADERship program, a Baltimore-based leadership development program. From 2016-17, Jenkins was vice president of community relations and diversity at The Cordish Companies. During her 2012-15 tenure at Coppin State University in Baltimore, she was involved in implementing the “Coppin State University Review Plan” that addressed the university’s performance, fiscal accountability, enrollment and graduation rates to put the university on a course for future growth. As former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s special secretary of the Office of Minority Affairs from 2007-12, Jenkins created programs to provide opportunities for small and minority-owned firms in the state.

As a way to give back to her hometown of Baltimore, Jenkins coordinated the Baltimore Sun’s “Reading by 9” program to help strengthen Baltimore City school children’s reading achievement. The program included community book distributions to low-income children, summer reading programs and grants to non-profit literary organizations. The program won national and local awards.

# # #

Madaleno bio – http://madalenoformaryland.com/meet-rich/

Jenkins bio – http://madalenoformaryland.com/meet-luwanda/

 

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Licensees Complain of Ordering Outage at Liquor Monopoly

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Montgomery County Licensed Beverage Association, which was founded by licensees as “a voice for Montgomery County retailers and restaurants against unjust DLC practices,” is complaining about a maintenance outage in the liquor monopoly’s iStore and iSupplier ordering systems.  This is the second complaint about the monopoly this week after the co-owner of a closing Silver Spring restaurant blasted it as having a “bloated and antiquated bureaucracy.”  We reprint the association’s Facebook post, which contains DLC’s notice, below.

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Hogan Cheerleader Blog Continues MD GOP Fear Mongering Campaign


There they go again. Building on the Maryland Republican Party’s  fear mongering mass email over foreign election observers, Hogan Cheerleader Blog Red Maryland continues the scam by implying that election observers would be Russian and this is how the Russians interfere in our elections.

Of course, anyone who reads a newspaper should know this isn’t how the Russians tampered in 2016 and that fighting off observers is playing into Trump’s “fake news” scam by fighting off efforts to improve and to secure our elections.

The could have also bothered to search the web and found the 2016 OSCE election report. Among the over 400 observers were exactly two from the Russian Federation. In contrast, the United Kingdom and Spain, to take just a couple of examples, sent 25 apiece. You can read their final report, including recommendations, here.

Red Maryland bloggers may not say they don’t like Trump and Hogan is different. But they sure are his – and Larry Hogan’s – “useful idiots” as Lenin might say. Needless to say, Governor Hogan has remained #HoganSilent on MD GOP Trump tactics.

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MoCo Delegates Kill Moon Country Club Bill

By Adam Pagnucco.

Montgomery County’s Delegates have killed a local bill proposed by Delegate David Moon (D-20) that would have eliminated a special tax break for country clubs contained in state law.  Seventeen Delegates voted to kill the bill while seven voted in its favor.

Under current state law, the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) is permitted to enter into agreements with country clubs possessing golf courses that would set the assessed value of their land at $1,000 per acre.  Moon’s bill would have phased out these agreements in Montgomery County subject to approval by voters.  The fiscal note on the bill indicated that the state government would have received an extra $1 million a year in tax revenue and the county government would have received an extra $10 million a year once the agreements were ended.  Despite the fact that the county just reported a $120 million shortfall, neither the County Executive nor the County Council supported the bill.

Since it was a local bill, the bill needed to clear Montgomery County’s House delegation before advancing to further votes by the county’s Senators and the full General Assembly.  That vote took place this morning.  After two unsuccessful attempts were made to amend the bill, Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D-15) made an unfavorable motion on it, which is tantamount to a no vote.  Delegate Sheila Hixson (D-20) seconded the motion.  Seventeen Delegates voted in favor of that motion and seven voted against.  The seven Delegates who voted in support of Moon’s bill were Moon, Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-18), Aruna Miller (D-15), Andrew Platt (D-17), Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18), Shane Robinson (D-39) and Jheanelle Wilkins (D-20).  We reprint the vote tally below.  In reading it, remember that a “Yea” vote is a vote to kill the bill.

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Co-Owner of Closing Restaurant Blasts Liquor Monopoly (Updated)

By Adam Pagnucco.

A co-owner of The Classics Restaurant, a Silver Spring steakhouse, has issued a statement placing part of the blame for his decision to close on the county’s liquor monopoly.  Co-owner Elliott Rattley said in part:

After some eleven and a half years, the Montgomery County Government has yet to show any support for the independent businessman in this area. Along with the onerous burden that the ineffective Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control places on an independent operator by their over the normal, for every local jurisdiction, pricing structure to support a bloated and antiquated bureaucracy, and the unfriendly business climate that Montgomery County in general creates, the continuance of this business is untenable. Of course, the loss of a Fortune 500 company directly across the street hastened this decision. (Discovery Channel)

Source of the Spring has the full statement.

In 2015, Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) introduced a bill that would have allowed MoCo voters to decide whether to end the monopoly.  An online petition initiated by your author gained more than 2,000 signatures from consumers, retailers and restaurant operators in favor of Frick’s bill.  County Executive Ike Leggett and the entire County Council except for Council Member Roger Berliner fought the bill and the delegation declined to pass it.  Seventh State asked Frick, Berliner, Council Member Marc Elrich and Council Member George Leventhal, all of whom are running for Executive, for their positions on the monopoly.  You can read their responses here.

Update: Patrick Lacefield, the county’s Director of Public Information, gave us the following on-the-record statement: “Our records indicate A single complaint ever (December 29, 2015 about an item not delivered).  Plus a $1000 fine for serving an underage person on December 5, 2013.  That’s pretty slim evidence.”

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Hogan Republicans Run Trump’s Playbook on Russia and Election Fraud

Can we please stop pretending that Larry Hogan is some sort of goo-goo Republican reformer?

Yesterday, the Maryland GOP sent out a hysterical email railing against – gasp – foreign election observers of American elections:

Do you think foreign nationals should be openly invited into our polling places on election day? Democratic Senators Kagan and Rosapepe think so.

For all the complaints about potential foreign involvement in U.S. elections, Maryland Democrats sure are trying to invite outside influences into our elections…

Now, they have introduced SB 190 that would give an international election observers the same rights as a U.S. citizen to watch over our elections for any polling place in the state that they see fit.

This bill gives foreign nationals the right to:

  • Go to polls unsupervised and move from poll-to-poll
  • Enter the polling place one-half hour before the polls open
  • Enter or be present at the polling pace at any time when the polls are open
  • Remain in the polling place until the completion of all tasks associated with the close of the polls
  • A police officer who is on duty at a polling place shall protect an international election observer in the discharge of the duties of the international election observe
  • The election judge shall designate reasonable times for international election observers to examine polling lists

SIGN AND SHARE the petition if you believe the Maryland Senate should vote AGAINST SB 190! 

I don’t know who came up with this unhinged horror at a piece of legislation that should be so uncontroversial as to verge on banal. Foreign election observers are common in elections around the world. The U.S. sends observers to countries around the world as part of observation missions.

Indeed, the American government plays a major role in funding these initiatives through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the International Republican Institute (IRI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Organization of American States (OAS), and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). All but the last are based in Washington.

Beyond the creepy weirdness of attempting to whip voters up over people observing – a word that specifically excludes any participatory role  – our elections, this is right out of the Trump playbook because of (1) its xenophobic attack on foreigners as somehow inherently nefarious, and (2) being resistant to any effort to improve the electoral process whatsoever.

Trump is impervious to protecting our elections from proven Russian interference in our elections because it helps Republicans. (Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave.) Under Larry Hogan, the Maryland GOP shows similar hostility to the most mild effort to improve our democracy in their effort to whip up hate about a bunch of foreign election experts who will come here, observe elections, and write a tempered report with a few suggestions for improvement.

The Governor has just lost what little credibility as a reformer he had. He is willing to speak out against redistricting in Maryland, because he thinks it will benefit his party, but totally silent on Republican efforts to protect it north of the Mason-Dixon and south of the Potomac.

Yet he found time to travel to Virginia to support the odious Ed Gillespie in his effort to become governor using hateful rhetoric and scaremongering. Despite Gillespie’s flop, Hogan apparently decided to import Gillespie-type tactics.

If Larry Hogan’s Republicans were remotely reasonable, they would never publish something like this. The Governor needs to repudiate it immediately and replace the people in the Maryland GOP who came up with this piece of tripe.

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