Tell lawmakers: "Don't compromise on ending cronyism in Annapolis."
Currently, there are two bills in the Maryland General Assembly to change the way some legislative vacancies are filled by using special elections -- SB0010, introduced by Senators Lam and Hough, and HB0103 introduced by Delegate Moon. We appreciate these lawmakers for introducing these bills and creating space for public discourse about how our state’s vacancy process works. And we agree with all three of these lawmakers when they say SB0010 and HB0103 are compromise bills. Represent Maryland does not think these bills are strong enough to fix the real problem – legislative appointments by central committees.
To us, the key talking point isn't whether or not we should adopt special elections for vacancies -- we absolutely should -- but rather how our current appointment process is being abused by political parties for their own gain. It's been a long running open secret that if a person wants to make it to the General Assembly without running in a state election they can get simply cozy up to or get themselves on one of their party’s central committees, and wait around for an opening. Nearly 20% of the current MDGA was appointed to their first or current seat; for the 2020 session alone, 9 vacancies have already been filled by central committees.
The role of a central committee is not to be a pipeline to the General Assembly but that is how it's currently treated by members of both parties. Central Committees should be working to advance their party vision through outreach, education, campaigning, and fundraising. However if you ask many CC members what they think about abolishing the appointment process, they will say, non-ironically "then what will the central committees do?"
In many cases, the decision about who is sent to the governor for approval falls on less than 10 people. In the case of the opening made in legislative district 45 when Cheryl Glenn was forced to resign after being indicted on fraud and bribery charges, seven people were responsible for deciding who the next representative would be for over 100K voters. And if you followed that situation, you'll know that the winning nominee is not only the daughter of another delegate in that district, but that she is also a CC member who cast the tie-breaking vote -- for herself.
Appointments are un-democratic and lead to crony corruption at all levels of government. Those who are hoping to get an appointment are more willing to toe their party line, instead of work for the benefit of the people they are meant to serve. It's time for the current members of the Maryland General Assembly to say enough is enough and put an end to this antiquated (at best) practice. It's time for them to stand up for the people of Maryland, to say they won't compromise on ending crony corruption, and work to make these two bills stronger by amending them to abolish appointments completely, regardless of timing.
TAKE ACTION NOW TO TELL LAWMAKERS TO END APPOINTMENTS COMPLETELY!
Contact the following senators and tell them: "Don't compromise on ending crony corruption. Strengthen SB0010 by amending it to abolish appointments entirely, in favor of special elections for all legislative openings."
(copy/paste these email addresses into your email app; sample language is below.)
Senator Clarence Lam, bill sponsor: 410-841-3653 | 301-858-3653 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Michael Hough, bill sponsor: 410-841-3704 | 301-858-3704 | email@example.com
Senator Paul Pinsky, Committee Chair: 410-841-3155 | 301-858-3155 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Bill Ferguson, Senate President: 410-841-3600 | 301-858-3600 | email@example.com
Sample language for email:
I am writing today to let you know that the people of Maryland do not want you to compromise when it comes to ending crony corruption in Maryland. SB0010 – “Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in Office” is a good start but it must be amended to be stronger by abolishing all legislative appointments in favor of special elections.
Central Committees are not meant to be pipelines for un-elected people to make their way to the General Assembly, but that’s what they’ve become. The recent situation in LD45 was one of the most undemocratic political events to happen in Maryland in years, and the handful of people behind the decision don’t think they did anything wrong. Marylanders are counting on you to fix this problem now, before it can happen again.
There are many ways that Special Elections can be made to work for all openings, including vote by mail and/or Instant Run-Off Ranked Choice Voting, and per Comptroller Franchot, the cost is nominal and well worth the investment into our future. There is no non-political reason to not push for a final solution now.
Please amend your bill to abolish appointments entirely and in the process, ensure that all eligible voters can participate in the democratic process of selecting their replacement lawmaker, regardless of timing. There is nothing more important to the future of Maryland and America than protecting and strengthening our democratic process.”
Sample language for phone:
“Please let the senator know that I want him to strengthen SB0010 by amending it to abolish appointments entirely. The people of Maryland do not need a compromise on ending crony corruption in Annapolis, we want a real, final solution.”
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