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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Important Legislation Reforms the County Liquor Board Nominating Process Following a String of Corruption Scandals

Note: Senate Education, Health, And Environmental Affairs Committee to Hold Hearing on SB 684 on February 24, 2017, 1:00 PM  
“These local liquor board and liquor inspector jobs are the last vestiges of an archaic political patronage system which for many decades has been controlled and run by state senators and their local political party, central committees. Given the recent indictments of both liquor board member and legislators it has become clear that it is finally time to clean up this mess.” Governor Larry Hogan, January 19, 2017
Governor Hogan Pledged That He Would Restore Integrity To Annapolis

Candidate Larry Hogan:
“On Day One We Are Going To Get To Work On Cleaning Up The Mess In Annapolis And Restoring Integrity To Our State Capital.” (“Larry Hogan Gubernatorial Announcement Speech,” Change Maryland, 1/31/14)

The Hogan Administration Has Worked To Root Out Corruption Across The State

Following His Inauguration, Governor Hogan Acted Quickly And Signed An Executive Order To Hold Public Officials Accountable; Executive Order Outlined The Standards Of Conduct For All Members Of The Executive Branch.

Executive Order Barred Members Of The Executive Branch From Certain Activities. "Less than three hours after taking office, Hogan had already signed his first executive order. It bars state employees from the executive branch from soliciting any kind of gift from anyone doing business with the state, and he ordered state employees not to give anyone any special treatment. ‘My first act as Governor holds all those who serve in the Executive Branch of state government to the highest possible ethical standards,’ Governor Hogan said in a news release announcing the executive order.” (“Larry Hogan Sworn In As Maryland’s 62nd Governor,” WBAL, 1/21/15)

Governor Hogan Worked In Conjunction With State And Federal Partners To Target Corruption At The Eastern Correctional Institution; Efforts Led To The Arrest Of 80 Individuals Involved In A Racketeering Conspiracy, The Largest Federal Indictment In State History. “Federal authorities have won indictments against 80 people, including corrections officers and inmates, in an alleged conspiracy to sneak heroin, cocaine, cellphones, pornography and other contraband into the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover. The largest federal indictment in Maryland history is the latest to allege that officers and inmates used sex, drugs and violence to run a criminal enterprise out of a state prison facility.” (Kevin Rector, Justin Fenton, and Jessica Anderson, “Feds Indict 80 People - Including 18 Corrections Officers - In ‘Massive’ Maryland Prison Corruption Case,” The Baltimore Sun, 10/5/16)

Governor Hogan: “The indictments announced today are a clear victory in the fight against corruption, and I want to thank all the hardworking federal and state law enforcement officers whose tireless dedication and sacrifice made it possible. This morning, I spoke with Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and personally commended him for his work and partnership with our state investigators to successfully execute this complex operation. While running for office, I made it clear that the systemic corruption that had been allowed to take hold in our state prison system was unacceptable, and I promised Marylanders that our administration would combat it head on. Today, together with our federal partners, we have taken decisive action to make good on that promise.” (Press Release, “Statement From Governor Larry Hogan On Eastern Correctional Institution Corruption Indictments,” Office Of The Governor, 10/5/16)

There Has Been Widespread, Bipartisan Agreement That Reforms Need To Be Made Concerning County Liquor Board Corruption; Governor Hogan’s Proposal Addresses This

The Washington Post Editorial Headline: “Maryland’s Liquor Patronage System Has To Go” (Editorial, “Maryland’s Liquor Patronage System Has To Go,” The Washington Post, 1/11/17)
The Washington Post Editorial: Governor Hogan Is Correct For Suggesting That The “Entire System Is Ripe For An Overhaul.” “Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was therefore correct when he suggested that the entire system is ripe for an overhaul. As things stand now, the liquor boards are not really accountable to anyone. Although the governor appoints county liquor board members throughout the state, the candidates are presented to him by local party officials.” (Editorial, “Maryland’s Liquor Patronage System Has To Go,” The Washington Post, 1/11/17)

Capital Gazette Editorial: Governor Hogan’s Liquor Board Reform Act Is Worth Passing. “The Liquor Board Reform Act would improve this patronage-rich environment by taking county political party central committees out of the nominating process and requiring senators to submit formal nominations subject to vetting by the ethics commission… All of Hogan's ideas are worth passing. Democrats may not like it that a popular governor now has the opportunity to take the high ground by advocating cleaner and more open government – but they are the ones whose lack of action created this opening for him. They have no one to blame but themselves.” (Editorial, “Lawmakers Should Act On Hogan’s Ethics Bills,” Capital Gazette, 1/23/17)

Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Executive: “I am very concerned and deeply disappointed to learn of the news this morning that the Prince George’s County Liquor Board offices were raided and arrests were made by the FBI.” (Press Release, “Statement Of County Executive Baker Regarding FBI Raids And Arrests,” Prince George's County Executive, 1/5/17)

Liquor Board Reform Act

Under The Governor’s Proposal, County Political Central Committees Are Removed From The Nominating Process; Senators Are Required To Submit A Formal Nomination, Subject To Oversight From The State Ethics Commission. “Within 30 days after the notification provided in accordance with subparagraph (I) of this paragraph, the Senate delegation shall, in a signed letter, nominate to the Governor one or more candidates for appointment to the Board position… Each individual nominated to the Board shall apply to the Central Repository for a State and National criminal history records check.” (“Senate Bill 684,” Maryland General Assembly, 2/3/17)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most people would behave in an ethical way without it being written into law. The law is for the people who won't.