The Baltimore Sun editorial board had a simple, seasonal lament in an editorial that ran Saturday: “All we want for Christmas is a scandal free month in Baltimore,” the headline read.
It was not to be.
Still reeling from a weekend scarred by violence, the city was rocked Monday by another political scandal: Former state Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D), one of the most powerful lawmakers in the Baltimore City House delegation, was charged by federal prosecutors with bribery and wire fraud [see related story].
With city elections just around the corner, candidates for mayor — who just hours earlier had vowed to find new ways of fighting crime — reacted with anger to Glenn’s indictment on Monday. And they said it is imperative that corrupt politicians — and those who turn a blind eye to wrongdoing — be swept from positions of power.
“Sadly, this news further undermines the public’s trust in their state and local officials in a year when we’ve seen too many stories like this one,” said City Council President Brandon M. Scott, one of a handful of leading candidates looking to dislodge Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in the April 28 Democratic primary.
“This vicious cycle of corruption — from gift cards to children’s books to dirty cops to tax credits to bribery — undermines any real effort to make Baltimore a safer and healthier place,” said candidate T.J. Smith (D), a former spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department.
“We must root out corruption, not only in the police department, but in all facets of government.”
Former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah called it “absurd” that Baltimore politicians end up in hot water so frequently.
“Every week there’s a new story of a new indictment, revealing the corrupt-to-its-core character of city politicians,” he said.
“This is a moment where the people of Baltimore need us to clean house and root out corruption from top to bottom. City politicians have either been complicit or asleep at the wheel; they’re either caught up in it or they’ve recklessly turned a blind eye…”
Sen. Mary L. Washington (D-Baltimore City) said the wave of corruption cannot “become the new normal.”
“We must always demand better from our elected officials. We must continue to hold them accountable and to only elect those to office who fight every day to earn and uphold the trust awarded them by the people.”
Glenn and former Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George’s County), a legislator who pled guilty in October to misusing campaign funds, are both represented by attorney William C. Brennan Jr.
But unlike Gaines, who pleaded guilty and faces sentencing in January, Glenn did not, raising the specter of a possible trial next year. She’s due to make her first appearance in court on Jan. 22.