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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Leaders rebuff Md. delegate’s demand to release interim report on Anderson

Del. Curt Anderson, D-Baltimore, said he is enthusiastic about the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ proposal to start school later in the day, something he previously has backed for academic reasons. ‘If it’s also talked about in relationship to public safety, I think that gives it another push,’ he said. (File photo)

The Maryland legislature’s ethics committee is reportedly investigating sexual misconduct allegations against Del. Curt Anderson, D-Baltimore. (File photo)

ANNAPOLIS — A state delegate from Baltimore City is calling on legislative leaders to publicly release an interim report on allegations of sexual misconduct against Del. Curt Anderson.

Del. Mary Washington, who is a candidate for Maryland Senate from Anderson’s district, called for the release in a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

In the letter, Washington notes that the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics has reportedly hired outside counsel to lead the review and that a 2004 complaint against Anderson was refiled prior to the start of the 2018 session.

“Although a prosecutor decided not to press charges in January, a report of this significance should have been treated seriously by our legislative body,” wrote Washington. “There is a difference between a prosecutor’s decision about the winnability of a case and the ethical behavior with which we members of the General Assembly are bound to perform. Whether or not Delegate Anderson could be charged at the time, the appearance of sexual misconduct, especially as our body was deeply involved in a re-writing of our sexual harassment complaint policies, should have been disclosed. Instead, it appears that certain legislative leaders were more concerned with concealing this information and colluding to keep it private just as we began our legislative session.”

The legislative ethics committee is said to be investigating complaints against Anderson, who is chair of the Baltimore City delegation, according to a report last week in The Baltimore Sun.

The name of the outside counsel has not been release and the work of the committee, by law, is confidential except under certain circumstances, including when the committee asks the General Assembly to sanction a lawmaker.

Busch and Miller, in a response Wednesday afternoon, cited the confidential nature of the work of the committee.

“All members of the General Assembly take an oath to support the constitution and laws of the state of Maryland,” the presiding officers wrote in their response. “Any attempt by any lawmaker to undermine the statutorily required confidentiality of the ethics committee would run afoul of that oath. Therefore, we respectfully decline your suggestion that we improperly interfere with the committee and its proceedings.”

Concerns about the handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving lawmakers and lobbyists moved front and center in the 2018 legislative session as the social media-driven #MeToo movement came to prominence.

Legislative leaders in December attempted to strengthen policies regarding how complaints were handled. Busch and Miller appointed a special commission to review the issue and make recommendations to the General Assembly.

The legislature also passed a new law, signed by Gov. Larry Hogan, that created an independent investigator to handle complaints against lawmakers and lobbyists.

Anderson earlier this year tried to quietly step down from his role in leading the delegation. It was rumored at the time that he was subject to an investigation regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. Anderson, in an interview with The Daily Record in April, denied knowledge of such an ethics committee review or any complaints of sexual misconduct.

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun last week, Anderson acknowledged an ethics panel review but denied each of the allegations, In that interview he said he has not been charged with a crime or violation of legislative ethics.

Since the end of the session, Anderson has all but disappeared from a campaign slate that included Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Maggie McIntosh.

Attempts to reach Anderson were not successful.

Washington is challenging Conway in the June 26 election.

Washington, in her letter, called on Miller and Busch to release an interim report on the commission’s investigation.

“Our constituents deserve so much better than this,” Washington wrote. “The state of Maryland deserves so much better than this. For their sake, and for the integrity of our elections and legislative processes, I respectfully ask that the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics release, for public review, an interim report by the end of this week. Even with the knowledge that the investigation is not yet complete, these interim findings, presented in a spirit of transparency, will provide the public with a sense of who is involved in the process, their expertise in investigating sexual misconduct cases, the timeline of the investigation, and some assurance that these most troubling accusations have been taken seriously and are truly being acted upon.”

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