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Md. House votes unanimously to reprimand Jalisi for bullying staff

Del. Hasan M. "Jay" Jalisi, D-Baltimore County. (File Bryan P. Sears / The Daily Record)

Del. Hasan M. “Jay” Jalisi, D-Baltimore County. (File Bryan P. Sears / The Daily Record)

ANNAPOLIS — For the second time this year the House of Delegates has publicly disciplined one of its own.

The House voted 136-0 to reprimand Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi, D-Baltimore County, for a pattern of abusive behavior and acts of bullying directed at his own staff and others.

Del. Sandy Rosenberg, D-Baltimore City and co-chair of the legislative ethics panel, said the public reprimand comes as the result of five years of incidents dating back to Jalisi’s first year in office and multiple attempts to get the delegate to change his ways.

“Regretfully he ignored their advice and their attempts to help him change his conduct and he continued to engage in abusive and bullying behavior,” said Rosenberg, adding that Jalisi “breached the standard of conduct expected of members of the General Assembly by bullying and verbally abusing members of his staff and other members staff, General Assembly staff and staff outside the General Assembly and doing so in an unprofessional and belligerent manner.”

Rosenberg said Jalisi’s behavior “reflects poorly on the House of Delegates and the General Assembly.”

Jalisi, who is in his second term, was not present as an ethics report and resolution were read into the record.

In a statement Monday, Jalisi denied all of the findings of the ethics committee and said he was the victim of a “political hit job” by a “powerful lobby” he declined to name. He also said he was denied due process and not allowed to participate in the investigation.

Rosenberg rejected those claims Wednesday, saying Jalisi and his attorney were given every opportunity to respond and present evidence in his own defense.

On Monday, the General Assembly’s Joint Ethics Committee issued a scathing 16-page report highlighting a pattern of bullying and demeaning behavior as well as numerous attempts to correct Jalisi’s behavior.

“We learned of a pattern of verbal abuse and controlling and belligerent behavior especially with staff that Delegate Jalisi considered subordinate to him,” said Rosenberg.

The report also notes Jalisi’s recalcitrance as he repeatedly ignored efforts by House Speaker Michael Busch, legislative leaders and the legislature’s human resources department to rectify his behavior.

As part of the reprimand, Jalisi is ordered to attend anger management classes and is prohibited from hiring staff until he completes the class. Those conditions were previously placed on Jalisi late last summer.

Earlier this year, the House voted to censure Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, D-Harford, after she used a racial slur to describe an area of Prince George’s County.

In the hierarchy of punishments, a reprimand is considered a somewhat lesser punishment than censure, though on paper they might appear to be the same.

Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery and House Majority leader characterized a reprimand as a “slap on the wrist” and a censure as a “harder slap on the wrist.”

“This is the first time we’ve handled something like this, at least in my tenure, so we felt reprimand was the right (punishment),” said Dumais. “We still felt, really, to take the step to make a public reprimand was, it gave all of us heartburn even though it was the right thing to do.”

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