Category Archives: Attorney General

Jon Cardin’s Long Goodbye

Del. Jon Cardin posted a letter to his constituents to Facebook that attacks the “negative smear campaign” regarding his attendance in the General Assembly. I guess Jon Cardin and Brian Frosh will not be having lunch together anytime soon.

The ball started rolling on this question when Baltimore Sun Reporter Luke Broadwater did a story entitled “Jon Cardin missed nearly 75% of votes in Annapolis.” (Note: I am quoted in the article suggesting that this might not be good for his campaign.)

Luke Broadwater investigated the committee votes of all three candidates for attorney general and found that:

General Assembly records reviewed by The Baltimore Sun show that during the 90-day legislative session, Cardin missed about 120 out of 164 committee votes — nearly 75 percent. The other two legislators running for attorney general missed few or no committee votes.

In his letter to constituents (posted in full below), Del. Cardin states:

Rather than focus on issues or qualifications, several personal attacks were made on me. By far, the most captivating negative attack was that I was a slacker, that I had missed “75% of the votes” in the General Assembly. . . . Over my 12 years in Annapolis, no one worked harder or tried to use his powers of persuasion to get legislative leaders to see alternative perspectives more than I. I was present for both Committee and House floor votes well-over 90% of the time, the 2014 session excepted.

This year, while I missed nearly no floor votes, no hearings, debates or amendments, I did miss nine committee voting sessions totaling 119 votes – all combined, less than 2 ½ hours of time.

He further repeats the reply that appeared in the Baltimore Sun article that he was present for over “90 percent” of floor and committee votes in past years:

I was present for both Committee and House floor votes well-over 90% of the time, the 2014 session excepted.

This year, while I missed nearly no floor votes, no hearings, debates or amendments, I did miss nine committee voting sessions totaling 119 votes – all combined, less than 2 ½ hours of time. The majority of these voting sessions occurred after 5:00pm with an unprecedented three voting sessions late on Friday afternoons when I head home to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Each evening except one I was with my wife, dealing with serious pregnancy health matters and/or my two year old daughter while my wife went to the doctor alone.

Del. Cardin said further that he had never explained all of this previously but should have done so in retrospect. Indeed, serious familial responsibilities would have been a potentially  effective political response to the several articles–not to mention Washington Post and Baltimore Sun editorials–highlighting his absenteeism.

As a result, I am left a bit puzzled. While I can understand the desire to keep the personal private, questions raised by reporters or other candidates about your record in previous office are within the bounds of fair play in anyone’s book. The Cardin campaign never stated that Broadwater’s article was inaccurate.

Del. Cardin undermines his case when he minimizes his level of absenteeism by trying unconvincingly to convert his 2014 absence from nearly 75% of committee votes to only “2 1/2 hours of time.” Committees are key decision makers in the General Assembly and votes there can be critical.

On the other hand, many will sympathize with both the toughness of campaigns (though the Cardin camp could play tough too) and the difficulties in balancing work and family responsibilities. Read the whole letter below and decide for yourself. I know that news articles (and definitely blog posts) don’t always have the whole picture.

Friends and Constituents of the 11th Legislative District:

For twelve years, I have had the honor of representing you in the House of Delegates. Thank you for putting your trust in me by electing me three times. This year, I ran for Attorney General and lost. For four weeks, I endured the most negative smear campaign seen in a Democratic Party primary in Maryland’s modern history, including accusations that I neglected my duties in the House of Delegates. Given the election results, it is clear that many believed the accusations. I made a mistake by not responding directly to the allegations when they were made. Now, I would like to set the record straight.

Rather than focus on issues or qualifications, several personal attacks were made on me. By far, the most captivating negative attack was that I was a slacker, that I had missed “75% of the votes” in the General Assembly. This is politics; I should have expected the other side to create a disparaging and disingenuous narrative to stick against me. Even so, I put my work ethic up against anyone’s in Annapolis. Over my 12 years in Annapolis, no one worked harder or tried to use his powers of persuasion to get legislative leaders to see alternative perspectives more than I. I was present for both Committee and House floor votes well-over 90% of the time, the 2014 session excepted.

This year, while I missed nearly no floor votes, no hearings, debates or amendments, I did miss nine committee voting sessions totaling 119 votes – all combined, less than 2 ½ hours of time. The majority of these voting sessions occurred after 5:00pm with an unprecedented three voting sessions late on Friday afternoons when I head home to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Each evening except one I was with my wife, dealing with serious pregnancy health matters and/or my two year old daughter while my wife went to the doctor alone. Needless to say, this was a difficult time for me and my family. The one voting session I missed, while not with family, I was in the community presenting legislative citations at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and Maryland Israel Development Corporation.

As democrats, we have not only taken policy positions on more inclusion of men into nurturing responsibilities, but we actively champion legislation that requires male involvement in family matters. Ironically, when it came to demonstrating belief through modeling behavior, my party backers used it as a weapon to destroy me. As a working parent in a part-time citizen legislature, I balanced my family responsibilities with 119 non-controversial votes.

At the beginning of the legislative session, I informed my Chairwoman that I had made a commitment to spend as much time assisting my wife as possible while making sure my work as a legislator did not suffer. For this reason, my chair knew of my wife’s pregnancy and medical issues long before even my parents or in-laws. I told her if she needed me for a close vote, I would be there. I kept that promise to both my family and my constituents. I cast over 2700 votes in the 2014 session, attended every hearing and 100% of my subcommittee meetings where we marked up the bills and voted on ALL amendments. Paradoxically, a campaign strategy that focused on sullying the Cardin name and work ethic was necessary because focusing on democratic issues and values, like expanding sick leave to attend to relatives, likely would have bolstered my actions.

With 2014 being the most successful session of my career, defining me as absent from work 75% of the time was a lie that effectively changed the narrative. In fact, my colleagues saw me in Annapolis every day, all day. I arrived daily at 6:30am and left at between 5 and 6pm. What I did not do is frequent the nightly dinners and corporate receptions that many of my colleagues enjoyed. To the contrary, on the nine nights our votes were stalled, I lingered as long as I could, quickly grabbed a kosher sandwich and soda that my per diem permitted and then rushed out. Nevertheless, I was further attacked for [allegedly unethical] management of my budget.

Meanwhile, my bills to go after cyber sexual harassment, protect citizens from election fraud, protect children from domestic violence and make teenagers true lifesavers with Breanna’s Law are just a few of the issues that are making Maryland a better place for everyone. Again, it seems that few wanted to discuss these issues important in protecting Maryland’s families, but rather they wanted to falsely define me as an absentee legislator. And it’s disheartening this irony was not reported in the press.

I had hoped to bring my commitment to the protection of consumers, children and the environment to the Attorney General’s Office. Instead, I will be returning to private life at the end of the year. I made a conscious decision to run a 100% positive campaign for Attorney General, trying to move Maryland forward and not towards the DC culture of gridlock, smear and negativism. I may have lost the election because of the way I tried to balance my work in the Annapolis, my commitment to my family, and my ethical campaign. But, I do not regret the decisions I made. As I look to the future, I hope to continue to advocate for the issues that were the hallmarks of my twelve years in the House of Delegates while fulfilling my roles as a husband and father.

Here’s the bottom line: Even missing one vote is missing too many votes. I tried hard to balance my family responsibilities with my public responsibilities and remain quite proud of the work I did on behalf of my constituents. I am a positive person driven to fight against control-driven bullies who lack the confidence to permit the voiceless to be heard. It was an honor to serve on behalf of the citizens of Maryland, and it was a responsibility that I did not take lightly. Maryland needs ethical, independent thinkers to bring democracy, balance, fairness, dignity and respect to public service. If nothing else, I hope my loss illuminates on transcending a system where control and bullies trump transparency and principle.

I am committed to the the principles of the Democratic party and hope that Brian Frosh, a good democrat, prevails so that our vision for a better Maryland is realized

Sincerely,

Jon S. Cardin

Raskin Supports Frosh, Madaleno

Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) is fighting back against the misuse of quotations from him that give the sense that he has endorsed opponents of AG Candidate Brian Frosh and Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-18):

Politics can be a tough business because anybody can say anything, and before it’s all over, they probably will.  But the truth is important, and I want to be clear about something to any of my friends out there.  When all the dust settles on Tuesday, Brian Frosh better be the Democratic nominee for Attorney General and Rich Madaleno better be coming back as the Senator from District 18.  These two public servants—I do not use the term lightly–are indispensable to the people of Montgomery County and Maryland.   Indispensable.  We would not have the toughest gun safety law in America without Brian Frosh, and we would not have marriage equality without Rich Madaleno.  Go out and vote for them with pride in everything they have accomplished and confidence in both their public honor and their passionate commitment to our community.

The boldface is mine.

WaPo Picks Up the Story

WaPo Logo

I’m naturally pleased that the Washington Post picked up the story on the controversy over Aisha Braveboy and her lack of support for LGBT rights in the General Assembly, including a lengthy quote from the post on this blog.

At the same time, it’s frustrating that they linked to Del. Braveboy’s defense of her position and missed the actual controversy. Specifically, Del. Braveboy’s story over her change of heart is not credible because the incident that she describes as the “defining moment” in her “evolution” occurred 11 months after the marriage equality referendum in which she claims to have voted yes.

Moreover, now Del. Braveboy is claiming that she really supported marriage equality but just not this bill:

“I look at nearly every bill and I make judgments based on the policy and they way the bill was drafted and written,” Braveboy said Tuesday. “While I may have supported the concept, I didn’t support the bill.”

Odd since she was viewed as a leader of opponents in the House of Delegates and certainly had no interest in passing a pro-marriage bill, or even milder pro-LGBT legislation in earlier sessions. If she “supported the concept,” she hid it well.

So while I am grateful to the Washington Post for giving the issue more coverage, it feels like a swing and a miss.

Aisha Braveboy-PPMW Controversy Part III

Aisha Braveboy had such an profound change of heart on marriage equality that it affected her vote before it happened.


Part I publicized Del. Braveboy’s response
to the questions raised about Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington (PPMW) Action Fund’s 100% rating in light of their question on marriage quality and Del. Braveboy’s past staunch opposition. Similarly, Part II posted PPMW’s press release.

Today, I explain why both responses are problematic.

Memory Lane

As PPMW outlined in their response, Del. Braveboy has a long history of opposition to not just marriage equality legislation but many other earlier efforts to advance LGBT equality.

In 2008, she so strongly opposed even basic LGBT rights that she even voted against hospital visitation and decision making rights for domestic partners. Del. Braveboy also voted against exemption from the property transfer tax for domestic partners in 2008. She voted against inheritance tax exemption for domestic partners in 2009.

And of course, Del. Braveboy voted against marriage equality in 2012, capping a long established record of consistent and emphatic opposition to equality for LGBT Marylanders.

Evolved or Expedient?

Del. Braveboy describes her views as having “evolved” like those of President Obama. Except that President Obama had a history of support for other LGBT rights besides marriage. He further had a public record of advocacy for treating LGBT individuals with basic dignity–not implacable opposition to LGBT rights and an array of negative public statements.

Moreover, President Obama “evolved” in advance of the 2012 referendum on the Maryland marriage equality legislation and his own reelection. In contrast, Del. Braveboy’s public change of heart occurred only after the referendum at a politically convenient moment for her attorney general bid. Sounds more like a Damascene conversion than evolution.

Additionally, Del. Braveboy explained her opposition to marriage equality in terms of her consistently expressed belief that it should be left up to the voters. An odd position for a candidate running for attorney general with the tagline of “Justice for All Marylanders” to suggest putting rights up for a vote.

And her story doesn’t add up. Del. Braveboy says that she changed her mind in advance of the referendum and cast her vote for marriage equality. She ascribes her change of heart to her experience during her pro bono representation of “a same-sex couple in a case where a cooperative housing association attempted to force one of the partners out of their family home and refused to recognize their familial relationship.”

Except that a search of the Maryland Judicial Database reveals that the case, Village Green v. Carroll, cited by Del. Braveboy as a “defining moment” in her evolution on the issue, was filed in October 2013–well after the 2012 referendum:

BraveboyCase

Aisha Braveboy had such an profound change of heart on marriage equality that it affected her vote before it happened.

Planned Parenthood’s Response

PPMW deserves kudos for including the marriage equality question on their questionnaire and, more importantly, their steadfast support for LGBT rights. Additionally, their statement is at pains to indicate that Del. Braveboy’s opponent, Sen. Brian Frosh, has a far superior record on this issue.

And I agree with their view that we should welcome politicians who evolve toward more favorable positions. Nonetheless, since all of the Democratic candidates for AG are legislators in the General Assembly, asking a question based on how they voted on Question 6 in the privacy of the voting booth was a mistake.

The votes cast in the legislature were of far greater moment and also verifiable. That’s why virtually all interest groups develop legislative ratings based on roll-call votes. In this case, there is also no evidence of public support before the election when it might have helped in the fight to win the vote. Interest groups should care far more about actions than private thoughts.

Two Thought Experiments

Would Del. Braveboy–who consistently opposed LGBT rights and argued that it should be up to the voters–now be presenting herself as a supporter of LGBT rights or saying that we need to respect the will of the voters if the vote on Question 6 had gone the other way?

How would PPMW rate a candidate who had always opposed abortion rights but in a questionnaire just before the election said that she had a change of heart on the issue?

Aisha Braveboy-PPMW Controversy, Part II

PPMW LogoPart I of this series presented Attorney General Candidate Aisha Braveboy’s response to the controversy over Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington (PPMW) Action Fund puzzling 100% rating. The questionnaire asked a question about support for marriage equality legislation–opposed by Del. Braveboy in the General Assembly.

While the Part III analyzes the problematic response by Del. Braveboy and PPMW, this part publishes PPMW’s statement on the matter:

PPMWAF Public Statement on Delegate Aisha Braveboy’s Candidate Questionnaire

Washington, D.C. – The Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC Action Fund (PPMWAF) would like to take the opportunity to address the discussion around Delegate Aisha Braveboy’s questionnaire and 100% score, which was posted on www.ppmwaf.com. We received Del. Aisha Braveboy’s questionnaire, noted that it included a “Yes” response for all questions asked, and accordingly, scored the questionnaire at 100%. After the score was posted, PPMWAF was made aware that there appeared to be some inconsistency between Del. Braveboy’s “Yes” answer for Question 8b, and her previous votes and statements regarding same-sex marriage in Maryland. Specifically, Del. Braveboy cast some older votes in 2008-2009 against LGBT domestic partner rights, trans* rights and marriage equality, sponsored and voted for an amendment in 2011 prohibiting same-sex marriage legislation (SB 116) from taking effect unless a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage failed at the ballot box in the 2012 general election, and voted against the 2012 same-sex marriage legislation (HB 438) that ultimately became law after it triumphed at the ballot box as Question 6.

Our questionnaire’s Question 8b asked, “Did you vote or would you have voted yes on Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland in 2012?” The question confined its analysis to Question 6, and intended to get at a candidate’s support for same-sex marriage. PPMWAF asked Del. Braveboy to add some context and explanation to her Yes answer, and here is the explanation she provided:

[see Del. Braveboy’s response in previous post]

Braveboy also answered “Yes” to Question 8c, in support of trans* rights, and she voted for the relevant legislation, SB 212, this year, as well as for HB 235 in 2011.

Del. Braveboy’s opponent, Brian Frosh, also got a 100% score, marking “Yes” for Questions 8b and 8c. Further, he has demonstrated a firm commitment to LGBT rights, including support for domestic partner hospital visitation rights in 2008. In 2011, he voted for marriage equality legislation (SB 116) and again in 2012 for the legislation that ultimately became law (HB 438). He also cast two supportive votes in 2011 for gender identity discrimination legislation (HB 235), and cosponsored SB 212 this year and helped lead the charge to pass the bill. Frosh has been endorsed by Equality Maryland this year, who lauded his commitment to LGBT issues and noted that “he worked with Senate leaders and advocates to shepherd the bill through the Senate,” and that “his leadership was instrumental in achieving the 8-3 vote for the bill in the Judicial Proceedings Committee which he chairs.”

PPMWAF has a deep commitment to civil rights and reproductive justice, and included in that is our commitment to LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and trans* equality and non-discrimination. That is precisely why we chose to include this question in our questionnaire, because we believe that all of our patients, including those who identify as LGBT or Queer, must be free from discrimination and have equal rights in order to be able to best make their reproductive health decisions. PPMWAF opposes any vote that leaves an integral civil rights decision in the hands of voters. PPMWAF also welcomes a legislator’s evolution in views, and applauds when, after previously expressing ambivalence or opposition on an important issue, a legislator comes to share our values. However, we at PPMWAF hold in highest esteem when a legislator has long-held and steadfast progressive beliefs and values, and demonstrates them in action by leading the charge on progressive legislation.

Here is a PDF copy of the press statement: 5-15 MD Braveboy questionnaire press statement

Aisha Braveboy-PPMW Controversy, Part I

In a previous post, I raised questions about Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington (PPMW) Action Fund’s puzzling decision to award a 100% rating to Attorney General Aisha Braveboy. PPMW’s questionnaire asked a question on support for marriage equality and Del. Braveboy had been a trenchant opponent while in the House of Delegates.

This is the first in a three-part series on the problematic responses issued by Del. Braveboy and PPMW. This first part publishes Del. Braveboy’s addendum to her questionnaire in light of follow-up questions from PPMW in light of the controversy:

Addendum to Question 8(b)

b. Did you vote or would you have voted yes on Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland in 2012?

I voted yes on Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act when it was on the ballot in 2012. While I don’t make it a practice of sharing my votes, as a citizen, I will make an exception in this case because it may appear inconsistent with my votes as a legislator. I supported letting voters decide the issue of same sex marriage and my votes and proposed amendments in the Maryland House of Delegates were made with the intent to allow voters to directly decide the question.

Much like President Obama, my personal views on same sex marriage have evolved over the years, and I fully support the rights of same sex couples to marry and to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples. In retrospect, I realize that these basic civil rights should not be left up to the will of voters. A defining moment for me came when I served as an attorney (pro-bono) for a same-sex couple that were victims of discrimination. In Village Green v. Carroll (Prince George’s Dist. Ct.), I represented a same-sex couple in a case where a cooperative housing association attempted to force one of the partners out of their family home and refused to recognize their familial relationship. Witnessing the discrimination experienced by my clients had a lasting impact on me and made me realize that my clients were as much of a loving family as my own mother and father, and their relationship should not be left up to the whim of voters. I successfully defended their right to be protected as a couple and later attended their marriage ceremony. As Attorney General, I would fight to ensure equal justice under law for all Marylanders.

Braveboy questionnaire addendum

Braveboy’s Planned Parenthood Rating Puzzle

AishaAisha Braveboy

Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW) is issuing candidate ratings based on questionnaires. PPMW has given two attorney general candidates, Aisha Braveboy and Brian Frosh, ratings of 100%. Jon Cardin is not listed.

One of PPMW’s questions involved support for marriage equality and Question 6, the 2012 referendum. But Del. Braveboy voted against marriage equality in the House and was not a supporter during the referendum.

Did PPMW ignore the marriage equality question in tallying its candidate ratings? Was Del. Braveboy forthcoming in response to this question? Or did PPMW just make a mistake?