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Maryland’s Endemic Corruption: An Object Lesson for the Nation

December 10, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is an exclusive report from Accuracy in Media.

Maryland is one of the most corrupt states in our nation. Nowhere is this fact more evident than with the state’s treatment of illegal aliens. Maryland politicians have literally become lawless in their efforts to cultivate illegals, and this lawlessness flows downhill from the very top. I will focus on a few of the more egregious examples.

In 2011, we published a report on CASA de Maryland, a Silver Spring-based illegal immigrant advocacy group that parrots ACORN in both its methods and associates—which include the Communist Party USA, FMLN, (a former Salvadoran communist guerilla group, now a political party), ACORN and others. Yet it is one of the most influential organizations in the state.

CASA receives significant state government funding, while Director Gustavo Torres and his wife, Sonia Mora both hold influential positions within that same government. Torres is a member of the Governor’s Council for New Americans and served on Governor Martin O’Malley’s transition team. Mora sits on the Governor’s Hispanic Affairs Commission and manages Montgomery County’s Latino Health Initiative. This is unseemly if not illegal. Torres’ primary source of income is CASA de Maryland, and CASA owes its inordinate influence to its many supporters in state government.

There is no disputing CASA’s influence. At a party to celebrate CASA’s 25 years of operation, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said, “I’d like to say I’m here for Mary Kay and Eliseo [the guests of honor], but when Gustavo Torres calls, I generally get in my car and go over and ask him what he wants.”

Torres’ influence extends to the White House. Former CASA Board member Cecilia Muñoz is President Obama’s Domestic Policy Director. Muñoz, who also worked for the National Council of La Raza, has been a persistent advocate for illegals throughout her tenure. Former CASA Board member Thomas Perez is now Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Holder Justice Department. Many of the odious lawsuits launched by the DOJ have been under Perez’s pen, including suits against states’ voter ID laws, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona’s anti-illegal alien law.

As quoted by The Washington Post, Baltimore County Delegate Pat McDonough put it bluntly: “Gustavo has created a sanctuary state. The governor does his bidding. The politicians who control power in the State of Maryland do his bidding. ... And his success has caused financial and personal heartbreak for the State of Maryland.”

When Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins cracked down on illegals flooding the county, CASA sued. They claimed that two of Jenkins’ deputies violated an illegal’s civil rights by questioning her, although she had an outstanding warrant and tried to run and hide when she saw them. CASA lost. Sheriff Jenkins stated:

I find it deplorable and disgusting that the groups involved in this lawsuit have tried to defame… the agency and discredit the two involved deputies and drag them through the mud for what is clearly their agenda in attempting to stop and derail the 287 program here in Frederick County.

Paulette Faulkner, an employee of Montgomery County’s Office of Child Support Enforcement, sent an email to Governor O’Malley in 2009, describing routine cases of illegals attempting to collect welfare benefits. She received a stern warning from then Department of Human Resources Deputy Secretary Stacy Rodgers not to complain.

Rodgers, who shares a seat with Torres on the Council for New Americans, told Faulkner to accept CASA de Maryland ID cards as legitimate identification. Faulkner refused, knowing that to follow that order would break the law. A short time later she was fired. She found no support from any legislator and was refused unemployment compensation. In the meantime, an audit revealed some 52,000 welfare recipients using invalid or non-existent social security numbers. A 2011 audit found similar problems.

Last year, Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) proposed HB-28, “Public Benefits — Requirement of Proof of Lawful Presence” which would have addressed the problems identified both by Faulkner and the two audits. The bill reasonably required welfare recipients to prove their eligibility with a valid ID. Help Save Maryland President Brad Botwin and Howard County resident Tom Young both went to Annapolis to testify on the bill’s behalf, each taking significant time off from work to attend the hearing.

Protocol demands that those in favor of the proposed law testify first. In what was characterized as a deliberate slight, the committee chairman, Del. Norman Conway (D-Dist. 38B), instead called a long list of bill opponents, including CASA de Maryland, the ACLU and others. They testified for over an hour, whereupon Del. Conway abruptly ended the hearing and ran from the room, shutting out any possibility of allowing proponents to speak.

Walter Abbott is another Marylander who learned how vindictive Governor O’Malley’s state government can be. Abbott is a family man with two grown children and a wife of 29 years. Abbott lost his drywall business due to competition from illegals. He had written many letters to the governor and testified in Annapolis on the immigration issue.

In early 2008, he responded to an O’Malley campaign website, which featured a popup banner soliciting responses to the question: “How do you feel about the job Governor Martin O’Malley is currently doing for the State of Maryland?” He wrote in the response form, “If I ever got close enough, I’d wrap my hands around your throat and choke the life out of you, you piece of s*&t American sellout.” He included his full name and address.

Within two hours, the state police were at his door. Abbott admits it probably wasn’t the smartest way to express his opinion and issued an apology shortly thereafter. However that day he was arrested and jailed. A $2 million bond was imposed on him by a Hispanic court commissioner. For perspective, violent felons arrested for overtly criminal acts routinely get bond in the low thousands. Abbott spent four days in the county jail. Finally bail was reduced by another judge and he was allowed to go free on his own recognizance.

What followed was a four-year legal battle. The first trial led to a misdemeanor conviction, but only because Judge Dana Levitz refused to allow the jury to consider a First Amendment argument. The jury was left with no choice but to convict. An appeals court threw out the conviction because Judge Levitz had failed to explain the difference between a threat and First Amendment rights.

The state retried the case again in 2011 and lost in a mistrial. They retried it a third time and lost again in a mistrial. Finally in 2012 they decided to drop the case. It is worth noting that the original prosecutor, Leo Ryan, Jr., was an O’Malley crony. He is now a District Court associate judge.

Walter Abbott and his family suffered extreme hardship during this period. He has yet to be reimbursed for the $500 fine he paid, and the property seized the day he was arrested has not been returned. One writer characterized their saga as a “war on a working man.”

For someone who wastes government resources for four years in an effort to destroy one hotheaded man, Governor O’Malley can be a hothead himself. Following a contentious in-person interview on the Chip Franklin radio show in 2002, then-Baltimore Mayor O’Malley bid his farewell on air, saying, “On that note, that probably is a good way to exit. And gentlemen, if you enjoyed that, come outside after the show, and I’ll kick your ass.”

But somehow, when Democrats make blatant, unapologetic death threats, which they do on a regular basis, all we get are “whatever” rolling eyes and yawns from their political patrons.

Maryland taxpayers currently pay $1.9 billion to support illegal immigrants. But according to Governor O’Malley, that’s not enough. CASA de Maryland and Governor O’Malley’s most recent assault on Maryland taxpayers came last year with passage of the DREAM Act, a multi-million dollar initiative that would provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens.

This law so outraged Maryland citizens that within three months of its passage, 132,000 signatures had been collected for a petition drive to place it on the ballot as a referendum in the 2012 election. Only 55,736 signatures were needed. Notably the most aggressive petition signers were legal immigrants, including Hispanics, Asians, Indians and others. According to Brad Botwin, president of Help Save Maryland and a key organizer of the petition drive, they were “angry that a group of illegal immigrants would come here and demand yet another service from the state, at their expense.”


Because the radical left can rarely succeed with legitimate arguments for their policies, lawfare has become one of their favored tactics. Thus what followed was a relentless campaign of repeated legal challenges to the petition. For this effort, taxpayer-funded CASA brought in top DNC lawyer, Joseph Sandler, who has made a name for himself attacking conservatives. In the Maryland case:

  • He demanded that the Maryland Board of Elections turn over the names and addresses of every petition signer. He got it.
  • He sued the BOE to throw out the petitions, many of which were collected from the Internet due to an innovative website created by Delegate Neil Parrott, one of the petition’s chief architects. Sandler lost.
  • He sued to have the referendum denied on the basis that it was a spending bill, which by state law cannot be subject to referendum. He lost.
  • He appealed and lost the appeal.
  • Then he demanded an investigation of Delegate Parrott.
  • Finally, he demanded an investigation of Help Save Maryland’s Brad Botwin for posting ads about the DREAM Act. He will lose that one too.

CASA de Maryland hosted a National Immigrant Integration Convention in downtown Baltimore this past September. Its timing and location was no coincidence, and illegals turned out in force to vocalize their support for the DREAM Act. Yet, to read the press reports, one might be mistaken to think the conference had no relationship to CASA.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signed an order in March 2012 preventing city law enforcement from questioning anyone’s immigration status as part of an official effort to attract illegals—despite a 20 percent black unemployment rate in the city.

The Maryland Department of Legislative Services provided extreme lowball DREAM Act cost estimates of under $1 million, increasing in two years to $3.5 million. A more realistic estimate is $27 million per year.

Legislative Services assumed about 366 students would participate. They based this solely on participation at Montgomery Community College, ignoring the other 15 community colleges and all four-year schools. Given Maryland’s estimated population of at least 275,000 illegals, that figure is extremely low. CASA de Maryland’s Director, Gustavo Torres, estimated eventual participation of 8,000-9,000 students. In such a circumstance the cost would exceed $100 million per year, and reduce the number of positions available in four-year schools for legal Maryland citizens.

The governor and his allies claim that these “undocumented” workers are good citizens who file and pay all their taxes and comply with Maryland’s small business regulations. This is simply false. Many run cash businesses, keep none of the requisite licenses, liability and unemployment insurance, and do not report taxes or pay market wages. They can and do undercut American employees. Illegals are hard pressed to protest this treatment precisely because they are illegal.

Meanwhile, O’Malley’s campaign website continues to promote the lie that the DREAM Act only applies to taxpayers. It says. It’s simple. If you pay Maryland taxes, you should pay Maryland tuition. #Votefor4.”

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Copyright ©2012 James Simpson

James Simpson is an economist, former White House budget analyst, businessman and investigative journalist. Follow Jim on Twitter & Facebook.