Maryland Dems Cut Ties With Baltimore Lawmaker Accused of Sexual Misconduct

The Maryland Democratic Party is cutting ties with embattled Del. Curtis S. Anderson (D-Baltimore City), who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. In a memo written Friday to members of the Maryland Democratic Party executive committee, obtained by Maryland Matters, state Democratic Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews says that as the party ramps up its coordinated campaign for the fall election, “we have no plans to campaign with or for Delegate Curt Anderson in 2018.” In the memo, Matthews acknowledges that Baltimore Women United, a group that works to close the political gender gap, may protest Anderson’s behavior at the Democratic State Central Committee’s next meeting on Aug. 4.  Del. Curtis S. Anderson  But she says that women legislators have advised that any further disciplinary action against Anderson must be taken by the General Assembly. “After speaking to several Democratic women legislators, they have asked us to allow the new process created in the 2018 legislative session for investigating sexual harassment allegations to proceed through the Ethics Committee towards a fair and public conclusion,” Matthews writes. The Baltimore Sun reported in mid-June that Anderson, a veteran lawmaker and chairman of the Baltimore City House delegation, is being investigated by the legislature’s ethics committee for alleged sexual abuse and harassment of multiple women. Anderson, 68, acknowledged the investigation but denied the allegations. The article was published as early voting in the June 26 Democratic primary was taking place. Anderson, who has been in office since 2003 (and previously served from 1983 to 1995), did fairly well in the early vote, but his percentage dropped considerably on primary day. Still, he did well enough to finish third in the primary, good enough to advance to the general election and almost certain reelection in the heavily Democratic Northeast Baltimore district. Earlier this year, without explanation, Anderson said he would not run on a ticket with the district’s other incumbent lawmakers. And in the final days of this year’s legislative session, he tried to step down as chairman of the city delegation. In an open letter to the General Assembly’s presiding officers, published this week in Maryland Matters, 66 of Anderson’s constituents urged a swift conclusion of the ethics probe, noting that the lawmaker has until Aug. 28 to decline the Democratic nomination.  In the memo to the Democratic leaders, and in a separate email Thursday to someone who wrote to Matthews about the Anderson allegations, the chairwoman outlines the steps the party has taken internally to address issues of sexual harassment and misconduct. “We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination and sexual harassment,” Matthews writes. “As Chair, I instituted a new policy earlier this year requiring all MDP staff and the Chair to complete sexual harassment training. We held our first training for all staff, including the Chair, earlier this year and will do so going forward on an annual basis. We also provided a sexual harassment training for candidates and campaign staff at our candidate training in March. Our legislature separately provides and requires ethics training for all legislators that includes sexual harassment training. “Going forward, the party will require that all 2018 coordinated campaign staff go through sexual harassment training this year, and require that all newly elected members of the Democratic State Central Committee complete sexual harassmenttraining by the end of 2018. The Maryland Democratic Party by-laws currently address misfeasance or malfeasance in office, which would include sexual harassment, to be grounds for removal from the Democratic State Central Committee. Allegations of this sort would be referred to theCredentials Committee.” Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report. jkurtz@marylandmatters.org

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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