Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Dear Central Committee members or candidates,
I wanted to bring you up to date on the situation in Carroll County with the Central Committee and its legislative vacancies. In two earlier emails I sent I outlined the process we had created to pick a single name to fill each of two open legislative seats in Carroll, and then how our committee was strong armed by administration representatives into throwing out that process and our selectee and into giving three names for each seat. Now, since we gave the Governor the name he wanted, Del. Justin Ready, we have a third opening to fill.
Over the objections of four members, our process was revised and we began preparing to send three new names to the governor. The Carroll Court would not step in to prevent our Committee from sending multiple names and give us time to have it heard in the courts. We also tried to get the committee to agree to a consent decree stipulating a single name in return for our stopping all other legal action, but they ignored that offer. As we were left with no other choice, we filed our complaint with the Court of Appeals and it will be heard today, Monday, March 2. The Court of Appeals has also temporarily prohibited the committee from submitting multiple names for this new open seat until it makes a decision. The committee, if willing to choose a single name, was allowed to do so. Unfortunately, the majority of our Committee are yet again unwilling to send a single name and have canceled the meeting we had scheduled last week to make our selection. The majority have also been unwilling to schedule a meeting even after the case is heard today. They appear to be content to simply let the clock run out on our duty to make a selection, whether they win and can send multiple names, or lose and are confined to sending a single name. We have until this Wednesday to submit a name or the selection goes, according to the Constitution, directly to the Governor to decide. (If the Governor decides without any input from the Committee, then we will certainly know who we were supposed to have put on that list of 3 names.)
On February 14th the MDGOP held its Executive Committee meeting, comprised of all the chairs and all the state officers. I attended that meeting knowing that the selection process for legislators would likely be one of the agenda items. It was. They closed the meeting for that portion of the agenda, but you will find attached the recommended process which the MDGOP will be pushing at the next convention. It has many problematic sections and does little to protect the committees’ authority in filling open legislative seats. In fact, it empowers the MDGOP and the Governor, which means less authority for the Central Committees. In that meeting, Diana Waterman declared her opposition to the legislature taking the authority from the Central Committees and going back to special elections. Unfortunately, she seems perfectly willing to take that authority away herself, given the attached Policy on Filling Legislative Vacancies, and given the fact the Dirk Haire, the MDGOP lawyer, is now defending the portion of the Carroll County Central Committee intent on sending three names to the Governor. So, Diana Waterman, along with Second Vice Chair Larry Helminiak, have both taken very public stances for the Central Committees to acquiesce to the demands of the Governor and send three names, thereby surrendering the Committee’s authority in filling the vacancy. That is not where either our Chair or Vice Chair should be. Their duty should be in defending committee authority not surrendering it, whether to our governor or anyone else.
If the Court of Appeals rules against us and says that we are Constitutionally allowed to send as many names as either the committee or the Governor wants, then we are left with nothing more than the status quo—in essence, nothing will change and Chairs can either go along with the Governor or not. If, however, the Court of Appeals rules for us, then legally only one name can be sent to the Governor to fill a legislative vacancy. Our lawyers expect the Court to hand down its ruling today, tomorrow at the latest.
I hope you are safe in your commute this icy morning.
Carroll County Republican Central Committee member