Tag Archives: Republicans

Republican Delegates Protect Internet Scammers

By Adam Pagnucco.

After Republicans in Congress voted to allow Internet service providers to sell their customers’ browsing histories and other personal data without their consent, Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) took action to block such practices in Maryland.  But one group was able to prevent the General Assembly from even voting on whether to allow such conduct in the Free State.

You guessed it: Republican state lawmakers.

Bills in Annapolis face deadlines for introduction so that each chamber has adequate time to send them to committees, hold hearings and votes, and reconcile them if different versions pass.  But Congress’s action to legalize Internet providers’ scamming of their customers took place only days ago and Sine Die, the last day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2017 regular session, is approaching on April 10.  Delegate Frick, who is known for introducing consumer protection bills, had to act fast.  The Maryland Constitution requires two thirds of state legislators to agree to let a bill be introduced in the last 35 days of session.  So Frick quickly drafted a bill to outlaw the scamming that Congress allowed and asked his colleagues in the House of Delegates to allow its introduction.  He needed 94 votes.  He got 90.

Frick posted a partial screenshot of the vote page on Facebook (below).  Delegate Kumar Barve (D-17) posted the full tally.  Every single Delegate who voted against the bill’s introduction was a Republican.  So were all the Members of Congress who voted to roll back federal Internet privacy rules in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

What did the Republican Delegates block from being voted on?  Frick’s bill was a simple one.  It would have made it an unfair or deceptive trade practice in Maryland for Internet service providers to sell or transfer their customers’ names, social security numbers, addresses, IP addresses and browsing histories without their affirmative permission.  It also would have banned them from showing ads derived from browsing histories and denying service to customers who refused to allow their personal information to be shared.  The bill made an exception for information subject to a subpoena, summons, warrant or court order.

One Republican Delegate who voted against introducing Frick’s bill, Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County, told the Associated Press that Internet privacy is “a national issue, and a Maryland bill would just drag Washington politics into the state.”  Great!  So when millions of Marylanders get scammed by Internet predators, the state legislators who represent them should do nothing.  Nigerian princes, British lottery officials and offshore bank investors rejoice!

GOP politicians have been known for their squabbling in recent years, but on this one thing, they agree: your personal Internet data should be bought and sold without your knowledge or consent.  Remember that in November 2018.

2018 Maryland House of Delegates Ratings, Part II

Continuing from yesterday’s list of safe Democratic seats in the House of Delegates, today’s post looks at safe Republican seats. All were carried by Trump in 2016 and Hogan in 2014. At 31% of the House, the 44 safe seats fall well short of being able to sustain a veto by a Republican governor.

Western Maryland

As with the Democrats, Republicans dominate certain regions of the state to their electoral benefit. They have nine safe seats in Western Maryland, a region with Republican loyalties dating back to the Civil War, like in much of Appalachia.

One delegate district (1A) centered on Garrett is arguably the safest GOP turf in the state. Portions of Allegany and Washington Counties used to be hotly contested with Democratic Speaker Cas Taylor hailing from Cumberland. Those days are over, as districts 1B, 1C, 2A, and 2B hold five more safe Republican seats.

Unlike the other Frederick County district,  District 4 is very safe Republican territory. It excludes the City of Frederick along with the southwestern portion of the County most oriented towards Washington, and can be depended up to elect three GOP delegates.

Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland

Save for the sole African-American majority subdistrict, the Eastern Shore is now solidly Republican. The districts east of the Bay (35A, 36, 37B, 38A, 38B, 38C) will reliably send nine Republicans to the House of Delegates in 2018.

Excluding heavily Democratic Charles County, Southern Maryland is now a great area for Republicans. Districts 27C, 29A, 29B and 29C centered on Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties are good territory for their four Republican delegates.

Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties

Carroll and Harford provide another trove of Republican seats with 5 (Carroll), 7 (Baltimore County and Harford), 34B (Harford), 35B (Cecil and Harford) electing nine more Republicans. District 42B, which takes in much of northern Baltimore County, has also been safe Republican turf for two more delegates.

Dundalk District 6 in Baltimore County is relatively new to electing Republicans. Before 2014, it sent three Democrats to the House of Delegates. Now, Republicans seem well ensconced in this working class white district at all level of government.

Anne Arundel and Howard Counties

Anne Arundel is a hotly divided county in many elections, such as the 2016 presidential and the 2012 referendum on marriage equality. However, several of its districts tilt heavily Republican–30B, 31B, 33–and will safely elect six Republicans in 2018.

As a whole, Howard tends to list increasingly Democratic. But District 9A, located in the more Republican western part of Howard with a bit of very Republican Carroll County added in for good measure, reliably elects two Republican delegates.

Conclusion

Bringing it all together, there are 44 solidly Republican seats:

Western Maryland: 9
Eastern Shore: 9
Southern Maryland: 4
Baltimore and Harford: 11
Carroll: 3
Howard (and Carroll): 2
Anne Arundel: 6

 

Maryland Republican Party Ashamed of Trump

The relationship between Donald Trump and the Maryland Republican Party is the love that dare not speak its name. Donald Trump is all but an unperson on the Maryland Republican Party twitter account, @mdreps.

The Maryland GOP would rather pretend their presidential nominee doesn’t exist. @mdreps hasn’t mentioned Donald Trump since the Republican Convention. Indeed, “Trump” has appeared a mere five times @mdreps since the Maryland Republican Primary, including the following tweet on primary night:

MDGOP3

Next up, from the Republican salad days:

MDGOP5

Video received from a Trump voter in honor of this tweet:

The following is the only tweet in which the Maryland Republican Party expresses direct approval of Trump:

MDGOP4

Though Trump gets mentioned in the next tweet only in the cited article description, it’s worth a mention if only because the Maryland Republican Party’s own words, “It’s about ideas, not race,” are as Orwellian as they come.

MDGOP2

The next day they retweeted an innocuous shout out to the Republican delegation in Cleveland that copied Trump.

In short, you’d never guess that the a thumping majority of Maryland Republicans support Donald Trump.  There is not one picture. No tweets proudly touting his latest utterance.

I imagine some Republicans will claim they’re just too focused on state issues to mention Trump. Except that you may’ve noticed that their logo is a “Stop Hillary” sign. Maryland Republicans also have no problem using @mdreps to attack Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

The lack of Trump mentions is really a good sign. Shame is the right emotion if Donald Trump is your party’s nominee. Let’s hope the second stage of grief for the party entails repudiation.

 

Republican Board of Elections Members Violated the Open Meetings Act

According to an opinion by the Open Meetings Compliance Board, the three Republican members of the Montgomery County Board of Elections violated the Open Meetings Act when they held a private conference call. As readers may recall, this call took place during the heated debate over the movement of early voting locations to less Democratic areas in the County.

From the opinion’s conclusion:

We have concluded that three voting members, a majority of the voting members of the elections board, constitute a “quorum” for purposes of the Act such that a conference call among three voting members constituted a meeting subject to the Act. We have recognized that applying the Act’s quorum definition to the elections board is complicated, and this matter posed the unusual circumstance in which the public body’s own definition, when applied, did not secure the public’s right to observe every stage of the public body’s consideration of public business. Although we can see that the board members might reasonably have relied on the bylaws provision when they conducted the board’s business among themselves, we nonetheless find that the conference call violated the Act. We therefore direct the elections board to the acknowledgment requirement in $ 3-211. We have not commented on how the elections board must transact business under the elections laws.

You can read the full letter here:
Open Meetings Compliance Letter on Paul E. Bessel’s Complaint

What the Frack?

The House Republicans are going after the fracking report (a.k.a. the Maryland Department of the Environment’s “Assessment of Risks from Unconventional Gas Well Development in the Marcellus Shale of Western Maryland”) in a big way. Here is House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga’s latest email:

Szeliga

They’ve even got a video from the hearing:

It’s good to see that House Republicans watched Battlestar Galactica too:

Facebook for Frazier

Well, the honeymoon for Gov. Larry Hogan–with Republicans, not Democrats–was short. Republican activists are already accusing Gov. Hogan of usurpation of the Maryland Constitution on Facebook:

frazier1.5

Otto attacks the Left too:

frazier1.7

Uh oh, he’s on to us. Opposition to Frazier is all a part of the global plot to get the Carroll County Republican Central Committee to choose a socialist to fill Getty’s seat.

frazier1.8

How Kotmair explains Frazier’s spanking in the Republican primary in her bid for renomination to her seat on the commission is unclear. More left-wing fraud? Or is it pinko infiltration?

Finally, we also have good old-fashioned passive aggressive:

Frazier2

Good news, JoAnn. It’s definitely you.

 

Dwyer’s Quiet Weekend and Simonaire Challenge

Now I know why Del. Don Dwyer didn’t vote on marijuana decriminalization. He’s unavailable on weekends:

Del. Don Dwyer Jr., spends weekends in the county jail in Glen Burnie, serving time for convictions last year on charges of drunken driving and drunken boating. His absence — he checks into jail on Friday evenings and is released on Sunday nights — means the Republican can’t vote on matters that are being decided on the final weekend of the 2014 General Assembly session.

He also has lost his committee assignments, which renders him even more ineffective than usual. Dwyer was not expelled because his offenses were misdemeanors unrelated to his work in the House. Besides his conviction after having caused injury to seven people in the boat accident, Dwyer is probably best known for his strident social conservatism and opposition to LGBT rights, as he believes that gays and lesbians are a “threat to children.”

D31B

He has filed for reelection from District 31B. House Minority Leader Nic Kipke is running as well in the two-seat district, as are six other Republicans. One of them is 24-year old Meagan Simonaire:

Simonaire, the daughter of state Sen. Bryan Simonaire, is a cosmetologist with a degree from Bob Jones University in South Carolina. She said she grew up in a political family and has a history of political activism.

If elected, the two Simonaires would be the only father-daughter Senate-House duo.

The Sad State of the MoCo GOP

For a Democrat, I seem to spend a lot of time lately lamenting the one-party nature of Montgomery County politics (see here and here):

It is difficult to hold officials accountable when there is essentially no viable “out” party. It increases factionalism on the Council and makes it easier for councilmembers to shift positions without consequence.

Much of the root of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The sharp rightward shift of the national GOP has tarnished its brand severely in a County that was long quite willing to elect candidates who were center right on economics but liberal on social questions.

The Maryland Republican Party has undergone its own unhelpful internal gyrations. More moderate Republicans have been purged in primaries in parts of the State in a reflection of the national trend. Former U.S. Sen. Mac Mathias would not have a prayer of winning a Republican primary in Maryland today. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is probably now a member of the left wing of the Maryland GOP.

The deterioration in the value of the Montgomery GOP is reflected in the candidates it attracts and the campaigns they run. They just can’t get good people to run and are not living up to the legacy of respected and well-liked Montgomery Republicans like Connie Morella, Betty Ann Krahnke, Howard Denis, and Jean Roesser.

Montgomery Republicans want to “end one party rule” but they need to offer a platform and candidates that appeal. Their interest and ability to do so seems decidedly limited. A pity not just for the Montgomery Republicans but for Montgomery voters.

Reforming MoCo Council Elections

council_districts

As previous posts have highlighted (here, here, and here), Democrats dominate Montgomery County elections with vanishingly small hope for Republicans. They don’t even bother to field candidates for a majority of the seats.

While Montgomery Democrats may cherish Republican-free Montgomery, it creates other problems for democratic governance. Relatively few people actually elect the Council. It is difficult to hold officials accountable when there is essentially no viable “out” party. It increases factionalism on the Council and makes it easier for councilmembers to shift positions without consequence.

This post suggests two reform methods, one simple and one more radical. The key to assessing any reform is to examine not just how it affects fairness or representation but also governance. While fairness is great, one needs to keep in mind the impact of changes on other aspects of our democratic system.

The first reform is very straightforward: abolish all of the at-large seats except one and increase the number of districts by three so the Council remains the same size. This change would reduce the ratio of constituents to councilmembers from roughly 200,000 to 125,000, the same as the state legislature, and make it easier for constituents and councilmembers to keep in touch.

The at-large member could be the council chair, eliminating the  jockeying for this visible post. Alternatively, all of the members could be elected from districts and continue to select the council chair from among their membership.

Advantages of this reform include a reduction in the cost of campaigns. Districts would be smaller so candidates would have to spend less money to campaign in them, possibly making it easier for less well-heeled candidates to enter races.

Opponents would argue that it eliminates councilmembers who take the whole county into account. But all councilmembers have their bases of support and three out of four at-large councilmembers currently hail from Silver Spring. Upcounty and West County folks might welcome additional representation in Rockville.

The real disadvantage is that it might leave us in much the same boat as now. It is virtually impossible to draw a Republican district in Montgomery, so we’d still have a single-party council with no representation of the permanent “out” party.

The second reform would address this issue. Voters would cast ballots just as now in the five districts. The votes in these districts would then be aggregated to distribute the remaining four at-large seats such that the overall allocation reflects this total, taking into account the number of district seats won by a party.

An example helps to illustrate. Suppose that the general election results fell on the following lines:

MoCoElectionDemocrats would win all five districts and receive those seats immediately. The allocation of the remaining four seats would occur in a manner designed to produce a proportional distribution among all of the seats.

In this simulated election, Republicans received 26% of the vote. A proportionate allocation would award the Republicans two of the nine total seats (at least based on the Ste. Laguë method of PR which I used here since it is considered very fair). As a result, the Republicans should receive two of the four at-large seats with the others going to the Democrats for a 7-2 Council.

This reform would have several positive consequences. First, it would encourage the Republicans to regularly run candidates for all district seats, increasing the political competition vital to democracy. After all, the Republicans might have garnered a third seat if they had run a candidate in District 3.

Additionally, it encourages all parties to work to increase turnout even in safe seats to make sure that they win as many seats as possible. In short, it eliminates advantages gained through winning seats in low-turnout district elections. This might even augment Montgomery’s influence in statewide races as we increase our relative voter muscle compared to the rest of the State.

This change would also create a majority and minority party in Rockville. Voters could thus reward or punish the performance of each party, increasing accountability, even if the Democrats continue their overall dominance. Parties instead of Democratic factions would help give coherence to Montgomery politics.

Critics would likely contend that it emphasizes party at the expense of candidates. First, let’s be up front and acknowledge that few county residents can identify many of their councilmembers and certainly do not know enough about them to make particularly informed judgments.

Second, candidates would still be very important as each party would want to run its most attractive candidates in order to increase its overall vote. Smart Republicans would want to nominate relative moderates to maximize their vote.

Of course, neither reform seems likely to be adopted. Incumbents love the status quo because, after all, it chose them. And I cannot say that I especially blame them. People in all walks of life like to keep their jobs and systems that work for them.