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Government & Politics

Moore rejects GOP’s recommended candidate to serve on state Board of Elections

Gov. Wes Moore (D) at his State of the State address earlier this month. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) is rejecting a Republican Party nominee for the Maryland State Board of Elections, calling him “not an appropriate selection for this important position of public trust.”

William Newton, a frequent candidate for the General Assembly and Congress, was nominated by the Republican State Central Committee to fill a vacancy on the elections board. Moore, in a letter to state Republican Party officials, said Newton “does not meet our internal vetting standards.”

“I am of the opinion that Mr. Newton is not an appropriate selection for this important position of public trust,” Moore wrote in a Feb. 16 letter to Nicole Beus Harris, chair of the Maryland Republican Party. “First, I do not believe that someone who denies the legitimacy of Maryland’s elections should be able to make decisions regarding their administration. Second, Mr. Newton does not meet our internal vetting standards due to his previous conviction for a crime of moral turpitude.”

Neither Newton nor Republican Party officials immediately responded to requests for comment. Moore’s letter did not elaborate on Newton’s alleged conviction.

A search of online court records showed Newton pleaded guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement in Baltimore County Circuit Court in 2019.

In 2017, Newton was one of a number of family caretakers for his mother, Virginia Lee Amato, who was diagnosed with dementia. At the time, Amato’s home was determined to be unfit for human habitation. Newton was accused of using his power of attorney to transfer the home to his girlfriend for $1, according to court records.

The transfer triggered both civil and criminal cases in Baltimore County.

Newton was sentenced to five years probation before judgement. As a condition, he was ordered to repay the Trust of Virginia Lee Amato $16,495 in monthly installments of at least $100.

Moore’s letter to the state party was first reported by The Duckpin. While state central committees recommend candidates to serve on the Board of Elections, governors are not bound to nominate them.

Newton, a Baltimore County resident, has previously run unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates, Congress and most recently the Maryland Senate.

Newton brands himself as a researcher of election issues. In the past he has filed suit challenging the candidacy of Hasan “Jay” Jalisi, a Baltimore County Democrat who spent two terms in the state House. Newton alleged that Jalisi failed to meet the candidacy requirements because he did not live in the district in which he was running. That lawsuit was ultimately dismissed.

In recent years Newton has used social media to raise questions about state elections. In a 2017 post, Newton alleged the vote counts in Baltimore City for the 2016 election were inaccurate. Newton was an unsuccessful candidate for the 7th congressional district seat that year.

In other posts he has raised questions about the state’s voting systems, which he said contain microchips that are manufactured in China.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with more details of William Newton’s court case.


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Moore rejects GOP’s recommended candidate to serve on state Board of Elections