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Prison scandal to greet returning O’Malley

Gov. Martin O’Malley can’t be looking forward to his return from an eight-day trade mission to Israel.

O’Malley, who has spent the last week meeting with dignitaries and trying to build relationships with foreign businesses, will have a sprawling city jail scandal awaiting his attention when he returns on Monday, highlighted by evidence that a gang leader manipulated and impregnated female prison guards as part of an intricate operation revolving around drugs, money and sex at the Baltimore Detention Center.

Gary D. Maynard, appointed by O’Malley to run the state Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services, has taken responsibility for the lack of oversight at the city’s jail, and has moved his office to the facility as part of an investigation into the scandal, which has led to the indictment of 13 female correctional officers.

The House of DelegatesJudiciary Committee has already scheduled a hearing to address issues at the jail, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. is calling for a blue-ribbon commission to study the state prison system.

O’Malley, who has now acknowledged he is considering a run at the White House after years of unconfirmed speculation, now must address the prison scandal while dodging grenades thrown by his political enemies.

Larry Hogan, a former cabinet secretary for Maryland Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., mounted the first attack this week, criticizing O’Malley for being out of the country as details of the scandal unfolded.

“It is unacceptable for the governor to go missing in action while inmates are apparently free to threaten the public’s safety from behind bars,” Hogan said in a statement center by Change Maryland, the anti-tax group that he chairs. Hogan also called for O’Malley to dismiss Maynard “for gross negligence.”

The governor’s first public appearance is scheduled on Tuesday, when he is expected to speak on healthcare in during a conference held by the American Society of Anesthesiologists at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington.