Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
‘I focus on vulnerable communities,’ Del. Jon S. Cardin says. He championed the move to restore voting rights to felons and, more recently, laws that criminalized cyberbullying and ‘revenge porn,’ the online posting of sexually explicit photos of ex-lovers with the intent to harass. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Cardin: People need to know who I am

The nephew of Maryland’s popular junior U.S. senator, Del. Jon S. Cardin does not deny that name recognition has helped him become the frontrunner in the campaign against his Democratic opponents for attorney general. But Cardin said it will take more than a name to win on primary day, June 24.

“Having my uncle’s support, advice and counsel is the biggest benefit of being a Cardin,” he said. “I need people to know who I am: A lawyer who is interested in keeping people safe and with a voice.”

The attorney general’s job involves not only litigating on the state’s behalf but advocating for laws that will protect Marylanders, Cardin said.

“Marylanders deserve to be treated fairly and equally,” Cardin said.

“The attorney general’s office is where that happens,” he added. “The attorney general should work to get legislation passed that he supports.”

Cardin, who described himself as “a student of policy as well as a student of law,” said his priorities include civil rights, consumer protection and the environment and ensuring that companies and individuals who violate these legal protections areas are held responsible.

“The attorney general needs to be there to say, ‘If you don’t follow these regulations, we’re going to come after you,’ but not in a dogmatic way,” Cardin added. “There are times when you need to make an example of a bad actor and you need to take a bad actor to task.”

As the lawyer for state agencies, the attorney general also must ensure the state is not being the bad actor in its dealings with businesses and Maryland residents, Cardin said.

“You are not just defending the state but advising the state,” added Cardin, who joined the bar after graduating in 2001 from what was then the University of Maryland School of Law. “There ought to be adequate oversight of agencies.”

An attorney general’s priority must always be “what is in the best interest of the people of Maryland,” Cardin said.

“First you have to follow the law,” he added. “I will vigorously defend the position of the state if it is constitutionally valid.”

A partner in the small Baltimore law firm of Cardin & Gitomer P.A., Cardin said criminal defense accounts for more than 50 percent of his practice, which also includes civil litigation and administrative law. He said he has argued about eight appellate cases.

As a state delegate, Cardin championed a 2013 law that makes cyberbullying a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. This past session, he helped lead the fight for a “revenge porn” law, which makes the online posting of sexually explicit photos of ex-lovers with the intent to harass them a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

“I focus on vulnerable communities,” Cardin said.

He also backed legislation in 2007 that permits felons who have served their time in prison to vote again.

“We have a basic right to be able to vote,” he said. That right should be restored after “you have paid your debt to society” he added.

Cardin, 44, said he will miss the General Assembly but concluded in January 2012 that the attorney general’s office would be “the place where I will realize my potential in solving people’s problems and where I am best suited.”

Now in his third term as a Baltimore County delegate, Cardin has chaired the Election Law Subcommittee since 2007 and served on the House Ways and Means Committee since 2003.

However, Cardin’s dedication to the committee came under question last week when The Baltimore Sun reported that he missed 121 of the 164 votes on bills in Ways and Means this session, or nearly 75 percent of the committee’s total.

Cardin responded with a statement blaming his political adversaries for the newspaper story and citing his responsibilities at home for his absenteeism.

“As my opponents find themselves down in the polls and anxious for attention, I fully expect these political attacks to continue,” Cardin wrote in his statement. “But they’ll find that many Maryland families are just like mine — with busy parents working to balance their professional responsibilities and family responsibilities, wishing there were more hours in the day.”

Public and private lives

Nearly all of the missed votes occurred on nine days of the 90-day session. Cardin said he missed some of the sessions so he could be home with his pregnant wife and young daughter. He added that “there was not a single instance where I missed a vote that would have affected the outcome of a bill.”

It was not Cardin’s first brush with controversy over the intersection of his public and private lives.

In an interview with The Daily Record before the voting story broke, Cardin voiced “regret” over having used Baltimore police officers — and a police helicopter —as part of his August 2009 marriage proposal.

Cardin was on a friend’s boat with his girlfriend when officers boarded the craft and acted like they were about to arrest her, while the helicopter hovered overhead. Cardin then popped the question and the answer was yes.

“I made a mistake” by including the police, Cardin said. “We all make mistakes.”

“I regret having made a misjudgment,” he added. “I misused the assets of the Baltimore City police.”

Cardin said he apologized and paid $300 to the police department to cover its costs that night. Cardin said he also contributed $1,000 to the police foundation.

“One mistake should not a career define,” he said.

Cardin hopes the next phase of his career involves serving as what he called Maryland’s “chief legal officer.”

“I am not afraid to pick sides,” he said. “The lawyer for the state ought to be making sure that consumers are being protected.”

Cardin is facing state Sen. Brian E. Frosh, 67, of Montgomery County, and Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, 39, of Prince George’s County, in the Democratic primary. A fourth contender, Del. C. William Frick of Montgomery County, bowed out in late February.

The winner will face off in the general election Nov. 4 against Jeffrey N. Pritzker, a Republican, and Leo Wayne Dymowski, a Libertarian, both lawyers from Baltimore County.

Tomorrow: Sen. Brian E. Frosh.

JON S. CARDIN

Birthdate and place:

Jan. 12, 1970; Baltimore.

Schools:

Tufts University, B.A. (international relations), 1992; University of Maryland, Baltimore County, M.P.S. (policy sciences), 1996; Baltimore Hebrew University, MA. (Judaic studies), 1996; University of Maryland School of Law, J.D., 2001.

Practice:

Partner at Cardin & Gitomer P.A. in Baltimore.

Philosophy:

“I have a philosophy, a vision and a proven track record of being inclusive.”