From: Cindy Walsh – Governor of Maryland democratic primary race
To: Susan Goering - Executive Director of Maryland ACLU
RE: Election violations are systemic in the Baltimore area
As a primary candidate for Governor of Maryland living in Baltimore City I request the aid of the Maryland ACLU and Maryland Attorney General’s office in addressing what is a systemic violation of election law that results in a crony and corrupt political process affecting all elections in Maryland, but especially the elections tied to Baltimore, the largest voting district in the state. As a candidate I receive equal protection under law as regards elections in regions all over Maryland but in Baltimore I have not received one opportunity to advance my platform or to gain face and name recognition in this primary race for governor. This is deliberate and it is why voting in the Baltimore is now down to 20%------there are no candidates getting the benefit of election law for whom voters want to vote.
Election are the fundamental principal of a democracy and the US Constitution is unique in the world in stating very strongly that US citizens are the legislators and their rights as citizens who determine law will not be denied. The US is unique as well in a Constitution that offers equal protections under law to all citizens. American election laws clearly state that all 501c3/4 organizations will provide equal access to forums and/or debates open to the community. This includes the political party machines, education institutions from K-college, churches, and private non-profits. These include as well all public media outlets from public radio and TV to government public access media.
I attended a public forum recently given by a private non-profit in Howard County that met every criteria in election law that was run efficiently and openly. Every candidate in the election from local Howard County offices to governor race candidates were sent an email invitation and allowed to participate with equal time and freedom to share their platform to the public. I have dates for similar events all over the state of Maryland. In Baltimore, I am left out of every one. Baltimore has a system where 501c3/4 either openly violate the election laws requiring invitation to all candidates and open forum to discuss their platforms or there is systematic exclusion with policy meant to circumvent the letter of election law with an institution hosting a forum or debate ‘sponsored’ by a private group of individuals that then select the candidates who are invited to speak to the public. The election environment in Baltimore are the kinds of elections held in developing world nations having Constitutions not half as clear about protections of citizens’ rights and Rule of Law including law surrounding elections. When I speak to a state politician whose district includes Baltimore I am told that’s just the way we do it. Well, Rule of Law does not allow this.
I will take one incident already past as a case for the MD ACLU and Maryland Attorney’s office for election violation with the knowledge that I am documenting many such violations to be pursued at the end of this primary session. Violations of election law taint election results and bring into question the candidate designated as having won an election. In the world of Rule of Law and Equal Protection, this election process would be NULL AND VOID. A government cannot allow candidates in major voting districts to be silenced and state that they have free and fair elections.
I am going to start by identifying the Baltimore Education Coalition and its education forum in Baltimore that selectively invited 3 candidates for governor and failed to invite all candidates for governor. Not surprisingly, the candidates for governor chosen were politicians backing the education reform supported by the BEC. This is a clear violation of election law and since education policy in Baltimore is a major priority for parents in the city, the failure to allow politicians with education policy stances counter to what most residents of the city do not want represents a deliberate effort to corrupt free and fair elections and voter’s rights to know the candidates they will see on the primary ballot. When we see a constant reference to the top candidates in the media or as I am known in Baltimore public media-----‘the two other candidates’, you have failed to meet election law requirements that all candidates be given time on public media.
Below we see two separate news journals and their approach to elections. My campaign received an opportunity for input in many news journals across the state as they sent out a general email to all candidates in primary races. In Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun which owns most of the news journals outside public media sent the email below and my campaign did not receive this solicitation…..again, the candidates chosen as the ‘top candidates’----which means global corporate and global market----were included. Now, election law does not require private media to meet election law, but media in America has always been pressured by government to provide a fair and balanced presentation of public events and especially elections. I have received no solicitation from Baltimore public media for my campaign platform or time to speak of my issues----a clear violation of election law. The Gazette, a Washington beltway news journal has a general solicitation policy to meet the spirit of election law:
Read candidates' responses to questions about minimum wage, the economy, taxes, education, Maryland Health Exchange, marijuana and the environment here. Baltimore Sun’s North Baltimore Patch.
As part of its 2014 election coverage, The Gazette is asking all candidates for some basic information about themselves and to fill out a questionnaire. We will post this information on an election page on our website, www.gazette.net. Responses will not be edited, except for possible libel. We need the following information about you and the answers to the questionnaire below by 5 p.m. on March 21.
If you run into any problems as the deadline approaches, please let us know.
The last avenue of election coverage comes with government public access media. Montgomery County has democratic elections and a strong system allowing all candidates access to platforms sharing their views. Maryland League of Women Voters holds its forum in Montgomery County and there is no such forum by the Baltimore League of Women Voters. Its webpage links to this Montgomery County event. Now, as a candidate I am happy to have at least Montgomery County branch adhering to the election laws and one can think that cost of providing this election event may be stopping the Baltimore branch, but again, the one strong source of free and fair elections does not happen in Baltimore, the largest voting district in the state. Then again there is Montgomery County public access media that sends a general email to all candidates for office in primaries to come to their studio to record a platform stance to be available to the public, in Baltimore our government public access has nothing on the primaries:
The League of Women Voters of Maryland and its affiliated local leagues hope you will participate in this process and use this opportunity to reach out to voters in your district. For many years, voters throughout the state have looked to the League of Women Voters for fair and accurate information about candidates and their positions, as a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates.
If you have already scheduled your appointment for Montgomery Community Media’s Candidate Spotlight, you may disregard this e-mail. The deadline to reserve your space for Montgomery Community Media’s Candidates’ Spotlight is this Friday, April 11 at 12pm. To make your appointment, please call 301-424-1730 ext 351 or 313. I have attached the information for your review. We look forward to seeing you at Montgomery Community Media soon!
I have shared these election violations and deliberate policies made to circumvent free and fair elections for a few election cycles to all the players I have listed above. I have as well written formal complaints to the FEC and Maryland Election Board and Maryland Attorney General’s office for several years about this systemic problem in Baltimore elections. I am submitting this letter to each of these agencies tasked with the protection and enforcement of election law once again, this time as the person victimized by this failure to uphold Rule of Law surrounding elections.
I listened to Jon Cardin at a primary event embrace the issue of free and fair elections in his run for Maryland Attorney General. Now, Jon is the head of Maryland Assembly elections committee….and it is no coincidence that his election district reaches into Baltimore. I asked Jon how systemic election violations in Baltimore and his district over decades holds up to having free and fair elections as a platform stance and by extension running for Maryland Attorney General……the office tasked with enforcing election law. Remember, the current Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is not only ignoring Baltimore election violations, he participates in Baltimore forums-------like the Baltimore Education Coalition------that he knows violates election law. As I inform the Federal Election Commission of all of these violations of election law by politicians tasked to upholding these laws we will see how the Federal government is protecting election law whether under a republican Bush or a neo-liberal Obama. Remember, Rule of Law and Equal Protection requires laws to be enforced.
What the citizens of Maryland need to know is that not only are your rights to free and fair elections being violated by the political appointments to government positions tasked with creating and overseeing election law…and/or candidates allowed to run for office as Public Justice tasked with enforcing law openly breaking the law.…but the American system of government has all your elected officials taking an oath of office to serve in the public interest and protect the US Constitution. No matter the office being local, state, or Federal. So, when a Maryland Assembly politician tells me that Election Law is a Federal Law and not his business, I am shouting that the Federal Election Commission would not be derelict in its duties if all of Maryland’s elected officials were shouting about systemic election violations in Baltimore. It is their business and it is their job.
I thank you for your time,
Candidate, Governor of Maryland primary race