Archive for March, 2010
ANNAPOLIS UPDATE – Impeachment Proceedings Against Attorney General Doug Gansler
By Delegate Rick Impallaria
Today, Wednesday, March 31, 2010, Delegate Don Dwyer introduced impeachment
charges against the Attorney General of the State of Maryland, Douglas F.
Gansler. Delegate Dwyer, before the entire body of the House of Delegates, read
out clearly and concisely the authority of the body to bring impeachment charges
against a constitutionally elected Officer of the State and also clearly laid
out the reasons why Mr. Gansler should be impeached by the House of Delegates.
To be absolutely clear about what impeachment means, it is similar to a Grand
Jury looking at the facts of a case and voting that the case should be sent to
trial. The House acts as a Grand Jury, and the Senate acts as the prosecuting
body, which would render a final judgment of innocence or guilt, and determine
what the proper punishment should be.
In my opinion, Delegate Dwyer has acted properly and in a professional manner to
defend the State Constitution, to defend the legal authority of the General
Assembly, and to protect the separation of powers as they have been set forth in
Mr. Gansler testified in favor of gay marriage legislation, a position that his
office should not have taken, as it is the Attorney General’s job to interpret
law, not to be part of the process of making law. When his position in defense
of gay marriage was rejected, or not acted upon, by the General Assembly, Mr.
Gansler took it upon himself to override the authority of the General Assembly,
to override the authority granted him by the Constitution, and, overturning the
opinion of a former Attorney General, writing an opinion which said Maryland
must immediately recognize gay marriages performed in other states.
Whether you support gay marriage or believe marriage is between a man and woman,
that issue alone has little importance in the matter of the impeachment before
us. The question is, in this willful disregard of the Constitution by Mr.
Gansler, did he act inappropriately and neglect his Constitutional
responsibilities and strip away the Constitutional authorities granted to the
General Assembly to make and pass laws?
As if this situation is not serious enough, once the question of impeachment was
raised, Mr. Gansler then wrote a second opinion that he himself was
unimpeachable and that the General Assembly had no authority to take such action
against him. When one man declares that he has the authority to make law above
the authority of the Constitution, and then follows by saying that no one has
the authority to object, or to take him to task, he clearly moves upon a system
which is losing its Constitutional authority and moving toward dictatorship.
I, along with 30 other members, stood up in support of moving for impeachment.
Unfortunately, in violation of the Constitution, Speaker Busch refused to allow
a vote to be taken on the impeachment and moved that the matter be taken before
the House Judiciary Committee, denying to those members who do not sit on the
Judiciary Committee, the right and opportunity to fully participate in the
impeachment process, denying the citizens of the State of Maryland their full
Constitutional rights under this process, and further stripping the duly elected
members of the General Assembly and the people that they represent, of their
authority to carry out a legal and proper impeachment according to the
Constitution. The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Delegate Joseph F. Vallario,
Jr., has such a long history of championing criminals at the expense of law
abiding citizens, that I do not have the time to go into detail.
I am providing you with a shortened version of Delegate Dwyer’s reasons and
Constitutional authorities for bringing this impeachment action. If you would
like a full copy of it, please contact me at 410-841-3334 and we will be happy
to send it to you. If you would like to communicate with Delegate Dwyer, you
can reach him at 410-841-3047. Speaker Busch can be reached at 410-841-3800 and
Delegate Vallario’s number is 410-841-3488.
At least it’s nice to know that there are 30 members of the House who still
support our Constitution.
Excerpts from Delegate Dwyer’s Motion for Impeachment.
Dear Colleagues, I would like to address the authority from which I speak and
address you today. In order to do so, I had asked that copies of the Maryland
Constitution and the House Rules be distributed to your desks. Unfortunately,
that was not permitted by the Speaker.
The authority for my actions today is as follows:
House Rules page 69 – Regarding a Right to Petition
Declaration of Rights under Article 13 Regarding a Redress of Grievance
Article I, Section 9 of the Maryland Constitution Regarding Oath Requirements
Article 1, Section 11 of the Maryland Constitution Regarding a Violating the
Oath of Office
Article 3, Section 26 of the Maryland Constitution Regarding Impeachment
Article 8 of the Declaration of Rights Regarding the Separation of Powers
Article V, Section 3 of the Maryland Constitution Regarding the Attorney
Right to Petition
Page 71 of House Rules referencing Declaration of Rights, Article 13 states:
“That every man hath a right to petition the Legislature for the redress of
grievances in a peaceable and orderly manner.” I argue that I intend to bring a
redress of grievance and that the vehicle for the grievance is a House Simple
Resolution that is yet to come.
Page 23 of the House Rules, under Rule 25 RESOLUTIONS states: (3) A resolution
reflecting an independent action of the House authorized by these Rules, or by
the Constitution or other applicable law, shall be introduced as a House Simple
Resolution. Clearly, impeachment is an independent action of the House
authorized by these Rules, and by the Constitution.
Authority to Impeach
Since we are bound by the State Constitution and the rules of the House, I would
like to first refer to page 80 in the House Rules under IMPEACHMENT states: “The
House of Delegates shall have the sole power to impeachment in all cases; but a
majority of all the members elected must concur in the impeachment. All
impeachments shall be tried by the Senate, and when sitting for that purpose,
the Senators shall be on oath, or affirmation, to do justice according to the
law and evidence; but no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of
two-thirds of all the Senators elected.”
Ironically, this is the exact language of Article 3 Section 26 of the Maryland
Constitution. Please note that the House Rules clearly provide for the
authority of the House to bring impeachment charges in ALL cases. There are no
exclusions in the House Rules pertaining to the Attorney General.
The office of the Attorney General has written that the Attorney General may not
be removed by Impeachment by the legislature. Yet, on August 23, 1973, at the
request of Governor Marvin Mandel, then Attorney General Francis Burch wrote:
“There is considerable authority that all high state officers i.e., those whose
offices have been provided for in the State Constitution or who have been
elected to office by the people at large, may be removed by impeachment.”
The following are just some of the cases supporting the Attorney General’s
Kirby v. Henderson, 124, N.W. 767, 770 (Iowa 1910)
Ralston v. Blain, 370 P. 2d 415, 417 (Kansas 1962)
Atty. Gen. v. Tufts, 131 N.E. 573, 574 (Mass. 1921)
This is consistent with the writing of Mr. Dan Friedman who is counsel to the
General Assembly. In his book The Maryland State Constitution – A Reference
Guide where on page 104 he states, “The Attorney General of Maryland relying on
extensive out of state authority, has opined that any officer elected by the
people at large or whose office is created by the state Constitution is subject
to impeachment under 26.”
Article 3 Section 26 states, “The House of Delegates shall have the sole power
of impeachment in all cases” and provided for the Charge of Impeachment to be
brought before the House.
Article 5 Section 1 of the State Constitution provides for the removal of the
Attorney General in the Senate when the Senate is seated for that purpose under
Oath. It is under the authority of the Senate to be seated for the purpose of a
trial, that the Senate becomes the court of Law, only for the purpose of
convicting or acquitting the elected official charged by the House.
I brought the Articles of Impeachment to the House Floor today at approximately 10:15am. I was not ruled out of order as I had expected to be, but was not able to get a vote. The Articles have been moved to House Judiciary Committee for hearings to be held today at 3pm.
Please come to testify, or simply to show support. If you are unable to come, you can view the hearings by following the link http://www.ustream.tv/channel/house-judiciary-hearings-march-31-2010
While researching in preparation of my impeachment of Maryland’s Attorney General, I came across an interesting situation. One that has led me to file an ethics complaint against House Speaker Michael Busch, regarding the appointment of the House Parliamentarian.
At issue are concerns regarding the House Parliamentarian and the fact the she is a voting member of the majority Party who, when asked questions of procedure, has always ruled in favor of the Speaker and the Democrat Party.
In fact, Maryland is the only legislature in the Nation whose Parliamentarian is a voting member of the body.
In order for the parliamentarian to rule fairly and objectively on a question of procedure, a legitimate parliamentarian is never a voting member of the organization or governing body. House Speaker Busch’s practice of appointing a voting member of the majority Party is a blatent disregard for the minotity Party.
I have and will continue to pursue a change of the Parliamentarian prior to the impeachment of March 31st.
Yesterday, I requested an emergency bill entitled Maryland Health Freedom Act. I am extremely concerned about the massive, intrusive, and expensive and UNCONSTITUTIONAL health care bill that Democrats on the Federal level are still trying to jam down America’s throat. I have watched along with many of you, the town hall meetings packed with citizens shouting to be heard while arrogant elected officials talk on their cell phones and insult their intelligence. A few days ago, Nancy Pelosi said, “we need to pass this bill so we can find out whats in it.” Are you kidding me? This is unacceptable and the people of Maryland deserve better. More to come on this.
I am appalled upon reading in the Gazette of yet another massive sewage spill from a pumping station. I have long argued that instances such as this along with others reported or unreported spills are the main culprit of the pollution in our waterways. I have been told that the main reason for pollution is animal feces and homeowners who have faulty septic systems.
Thousands of waterfront homeowners are required to comply with numerous stringent regulations regarding the use of their property in the name of protecting the environment. Non- compliance, even inadvertently often results in the homeowner having to pay huge fines or appearance in court. Meanwhile, municipalities whose pumping stations release raw sewage into the rivers and streams are not held responsible.
In response to this latest spill, I have sent a letter to MDE Secretary Wilson to ask that Baltimore County be required to pay the maximum fine allowable by law. I will update when I receive a response.
On Monday March 1, 2010 Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler declared in a letter written to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, that the Attorney General may only be removed by a court proceeding for the specified grounds, not by impeachment by the legislature.
While it is true that during the impeachment process, the removal comes as result of a court procedure, in all impeachments the Senate or High House becomes the court of jurisdiction. This is evidenced in the many historical records of impeachment proceedings.
This letter was reportedly presented to Democrat members of the General Assembly with the understanding that that Maryland Attorney General cannot be impeached. This is simply ludicrous given that according to Article 3 Section 26 of the Maryland Constitution states;
“The House of Delegates shall have the sole power of impeachment in all cases; but a majority of all the members elected must concur in the impeachment. All impeachments shall be tried by the Senate, and when sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath, or affirmation, to do justice according to the law and evidence; but no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Senators elected”.
This opinion letter comes on the heels of an announcement on February 24, 2010 that I would impeach Attorney General Gansler for violating his Oath of office and usurping the legislative authority of the General Assembly by recognizing out of state same sex marriages in Maryland.
I am not surprised to see that Attorney General Gansler opposes his own impeachment. What is surprising is that Dan Friedman (Council to the General Assembly) who wrote the letter, refers to the book, Dan Friedman, The Maryland State Constitution: A Reference Guide as the basis for his opinion that the Attorney General may not be impeached or removed by the legislature.
click here to read Dan Friedman’s letter
Just 6 years after Maryland’s Attorney General Joe Curran issued his official opinion on the recognition of out of state same sex marriage, Maryland’s current Attorney General Doug Gansler has overturned it. In doing so, he not only bypassed the long standing practice of referring to standing opinions from previous Attorney Generals, he also usurped the power of the General Assembly. The immediate effect of this opinion is far-reaching. It nullifies Maryland’s current law that states “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state.”
To hold the office of Attorney General one must put his or her personal agenda on hold and consider the greater good of the state. Personal prejudice has no place in consideration of law. The sworn oath the Attorney General takes is very clear. It demands him to be, “faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the constitution and Laws thereof; and that I will, to the best of my skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully, without partiality or prejudice, execute the office of Attorney General according to the Constitution and Laws of this State.” Irrefutable evidence exists proving Mr. Gansler violated his oath of office by offering partial and prejudice testimony in his official capacity. He is not constitutionally authorized to offer partial and prejudice testimony under the cloak of his elected office.
He has unabashedly supported the not only the recognition of out of state same sex marriages, but also overtly advocates for Maryland to start performing them. In his testimony in the Maryland Senate in 2008 he fully outlines what he thinks is his job as Attorney General. “The role of the Attorney General is not just to enforce the law, but to seek justice in every case.” He went on to say “It would be hard for me to have this job knowing that there is something so wrong in our society and just ignore it and be able to come down and at least testify on behalf of this bill.” This action is in direct conflict with the intent of the Oath of Office to which he swore his allegiance. It is also a grave injustice to the citizens of Maryland.
The Attorney General has argued his opinion has no effect of law and is meant to “guide judges and state agencies,” yet when asked, he has been quoted in a local newspaper as saying, “What an Attorney General’s opinion does is it becomes the law of the land unless or until a Legislature or a court overturns that decision.” One has to wonder which of his own opinions he believes.
Ironically, if he truly believes that an Attorney General’s Opinion stands until overturned by a court ruling or legislative process, why did he consider his predecessor’s opinion vulnerable and invalid? Since 2004 no court ruling or legislative action was imposed against it. Oddly enough, Mr. Gansler’s office successfully defended the 2004 opinion in Maryland’s highest court protecting the sanctity of marriage.
These actions show a clear disregard for Maryland and the legislative process by which it is enacted. For this reason, I am holding Maryland’s Attorney General accountable for his actions. I am preparing articles of impeachment based on the offenses outlined in this writing. One can only hope that this process will not be circumvented for political expediency.