Md. delegate’s move to impeach attorney general pushed to committee
Posted: 9:14 am Wed, March 31, 2010
ANNAPOLIS – An attempt to impeach Maryland’s attorney general devolved into a House of Delegates debate on parliamentary rules, leaving discussion of the impeachment itself to a House committee hearing later Wednesday afternoon.
Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr., R-Anne Arundel, has for months threatened to impeach Attorney General Doug Gansler after Gansler in January issued an opinion advising state agencies to recognize legal same-sex marriages in other states.
The opinion usurped the lawmaking power of the General Assembly, Dwyer bellowed on the House floor.
The impeachment is “an issue that will affect this great institution for the rest of its existence if it isn’t resolved today,” he added.
Dwyer said later: “It is about a blatant disregard for this institution.”
Dwyer and other Republican delegates pressed for a vote on the impeachment on the floor of the House and were ultimately unsuccessful after about an hour of debate. The impeachment resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which has scheduled a 3 p.m. hearing where members of the House will discuss the issue.
“We will definitely vote on it,” said Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., the Prince George’s County Democrat who chairs the committee. Vallario said the vote to kill the impeachment or send it to the House floor could take place tonight or tomorrow.
House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, R-Calvert and St. Mary’s, tried unsuccessfully to reverse the decision to send the resolution to committee and hear it on the House floor instead. His measure failed 101-39.
Democratic leaders said the committee referral followed the standard House rules.
“The people’s House should not be turned into the people’s coliseum, where public officials are torn apart for the sport of the crowd,” said Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons, D-Montgomery.
O’Donnell acknowledged the proceedings on Wednesday “could have devolved into something worse.”
“I think it was done with as much control as could be expected,” he said.
Dwyer had long predicted he would get ruled out of order, shouted down and even thrown out of the chamber. Indeed, there were extra state troopers on hand, though they were occupied mostly with quieting onlookers in the gallery who cheered Dwyer on.