House Votes Unanimously to Reprimand Del. Jalisi for Workplace Conduct

TV cameras await the arrival of Del. Hasan M. "Jay" Jalisi (D-Baltimore County) in the House chamber Wednesday. But he never showed up. Photo by Josh Kurtz

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 136-0 Wednesday to reprimand Del. Hasan M. “Jay” Jalisi (D-Baltimore County) for “an ongoing pattern of unrepentant workplace bullying.”

Jalisi was tagged in a brutal report issued earlier this week by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics for creating a “toxic” workplace environment and repeatedly berating General Assembly staffers over a period of five years. He also refused to take anger management and workplace sensitivity training, the report said, despite being advised to do so by House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).

Jalisi was absent from the House chamber for the third straight floor session Wednesday – ever since the ethics committee report was released on Monday night. Early Tuesday, he released a statement calling the ethics report the product of a “sham investigation.”

Coincidentally, Busch, who has been ailing this week, was also absent from the chamber on Wednesday.

The actual public discussion of the ethics report on the House floor only lasted a few minutes Wednesday – similar to when the House voted a month ago to censure Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford) for uttering the N-word within earshot of colleagues and lobbyists at an after-hours Annapolis social gathering.

“It is not a pleasant duty, but it is an essential one,” Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore City), the co-chair of the ethics committee, told his colleagues.

Rosenberg went on to assert that Jalisi “has breached the standards of conduct expected by members of the General Assembly.”

He also rejected Jalisi’s suggestion that the ethics investigation was rushed or unfair, and that witnesses were coerced into testifying against the lawmaker. He said staffers who came forward “bravely reported the delegate’s conduct” and said Jalisi was provided “adequate due process.”

As part of the ethics committee’s recommendations, Jalisi has been advised to take anger management and workplace sensitivity training before the 2020 General Assembly session or risk further sanctions, including being removed from his committee assignments. Lisanti was stripped of her seat on the House Economic Matters Committee and of her subcommittee gavel.

Jalisi’s reprimand is one step below Lisanti’s censure for official legislative punishment – the key difference being that a censure becomes part of the official journalized record of floor proceedings. But the House also voted to journalize the 16-page ethics committee report about Jalisi, meaning there will be a written record in House proceedings outlining his conduct.

“No elected official has the right to abuse and belittle others,” Rosenberg said.

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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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