Democrats step up politicization of independence
If you pay any attention to Democratic Party politics in the state of Maryland, you know that the Democrats are the first people who want to step to the plate to have an “independent” or “fair” investigation of any Republican wrongdoing. The long investigation of Governor Ehrlich’s appointees was such an “independent” investigation.
As usual though, when the shoe is the other foot, the Democrats cry foul.
According to the story in today’s Sun:
The General Assembly created the state prosecutor’s office in 1976 after a series of public corruption scandals in Maryland. The office, which is designed to be independent of political influence, can initiate investigations on its own or at the request of the governor, legislature or other top officials. Rohrbaugh is the third person to head the office.
All of which seems pretty basic right? The website of the State Prosecutor lists the following as the mission of that office:
The State Prosecutor may investigate on his own initiative, or at the request of the Governor, the Attorney General, the General Assembly, the State Ethics Commission, or a State’s Attorney, certain criminal offenses. These include: 1) State election law violations; 2) State public ethics law violations; 3) State bribery law violations involving public officials or employees; 4) misconduct in office by public officials or employees; and 5) extortion, perjury, or obstruction of justice related to any of the above.
An independent investigator who is above the political fray, who is not subject to the whim of the Governor of a particular political party to keep their position. It seems like a pretty reasonable concept of good government.
Considering that it was a Democratic General Assembly and a Democratic Acting Governor who passed the legislation and signed the bill into law, you would think the Democrats would be all for the continuance of this position. And they were….until Governor Ehrlich got to appoint Robert Rohrbaugh.
Now, the Maryland Democratic Party is certainly singing a different tune:
The state Democratic Party has been especially critical of the state prosecutor’s attacks on the mayor.
“Rohrbaugh has sent some very disturbing signals in recent weeks,” said David Paulson, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party, which complained that the prosecutor went after St. John for his contributions to Democrats but not those he made to Ehrlich. Paulson said Democrats are watching the state prosecutor for signs that he is “stepping out of bounds.”
“We are concerned,” Paulson said. “This investigation [into Dixon] has been going on for years, and these questions have been asked and answered.” Ehrlich, who appointed Rohrbaugh to a six-year term, said he has no influence over the prosecutor.
It’s quite an amazing change of heart that suddenly Maryland Democrats have a problem with the idea of an independent prosecutor. Paulson’s problem with Rohrbaugh seems to be merely the fact that Rohrbaugh is fulfilling the duties of the office to which he has been appointed and serving. It’s just that Paulson doesn’t like the fact that somebody independent is going after corrupt Democrats in Maryland, which impedes their ability for hegemonic governance. Citing the fine of Ed St. John as a problem is ridiculous because St. John violated campaign finance laws. Citing the further investigation of Sheila Dixon is a farce because the current investigation, including the public revelation of obvious violations of ethics laws and a clear violation of the public trust, is stagnant and has lead to no prosecution to this point.
If Paulson really wants to complain about the prosecutor’s office, maybe he should complain that Rohrbaugh’s office can’t spend enough time investigating corrupt Maryland Democrats.
There is a long standing tradition of political corruption in Maryland, particularly on the side of elected Democrats. The Democrats insistence on politicizing the office of the independent prosecutor charged with investigating such corruption shows the lengths they will go to in an effort to delegitimize those who wish to stand against their hegemony in Maryland, and those who wish to challenge the corrupt leaders Democrats wish to protect. As usual, their argument is full of bologna.