Maryland is one of the most corrupt states in our nation. Nowhere is this fact more evident than with the state’s treatment of illegal aliens. Maryland politicians have literally become lawless in their efforts to cultivate illegals, and this lawlessness flows downhill from the very top. I will focus on a few of the more egregious examples.
In 2011, we published a report on CASA de Maryland, a Silver Spring-based illegal immigrant advocacy group that parrots ACORN in both its methods and associates—which include the Communist Party USA, FMLN, (a former Salvadoran communist guerilla group, now a political party), ACORN and others. Yet it is one of the most influential organizations in the state.
CASA receives significant state government funding, while Director Gustavo Torres and his wife, Sonia Mora both hold influential positions within that same government. Torres is a member of the Governor’s Council for New Americans and served on Governor Martin O’Malley’s transition team. Mora sits on the Governor’s Hispanic Affairs Commission and manages Montgomery County’s Latino Health Initiative. This is unseemly if not illegal. Torres’ primary source of income is CASA de Maryland, and CASA owes its inordinate influence to its many supporters in state government.
There is no disputing CASA’s influence. At a party to celebrate CASA’s 25 years of operation, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said, “I’d like to say I’m here for Mary Kay and Eliseo [the guests of honor], but when Gustavo Torres calls, I generally get in my car and go over and ask him what he wants.”
Torres’ influence extends to the White House. Former CASA Board member Cecilia Muñoz is President Obama’s Domestic Policy Director. Muñoz, who also worked for the National Council of La Raza, has been a persistent advocate for illegals throughout her tenure. Former CASA Board member Thomas Perez is now Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Holder Justice Department. Many of the odious lawsuits launched by the DOJ have been under Perez’s pen, including suits against states’ voter ID laws, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona’s anti-illegal alien law.
As quoted by The Washington Post, Baltimore County Delegate Pat McDonough put it bluntly: “Gustavo has created a sanctuary state. The governor does his bidding. The politicians who control power in the State of Maryland do his bidding. … And his success has caused financial and personal heartbreak for the State of Maryland.”
When Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins cracked down on illegals flooding the county, CASA sued. They claimed that two of Jenkins’ deputies violated an illegal’s civil rights by questioning her, although she had an outstanding warrant and tried to run and hide when she saw them. CASA lost. Sheriff Jenkins stated:
I find it deplorable and disgusting that the groups involved in this lawsuit have tried to defame… the agency and discredit the two involved deputies and drag them through the mud for what is clearly their agenda in attempting to stop and derail the 287 program here in Frederick County.
Paulette Faulkner, an employee of Montgomery County’s Office of Child Support Enforcement, sent an email to Governor O’Malley in 2009, describing routine cases of illegals attempting to collect welfare benefits. She received a stern warning from then Department of Human Resources Deputy Secretary Stacy Rodgers not to complain.
Rodgers, who shares a seat with Torres on the Council for New Americans, told Faulkner to accept CASA de Maryland ID cards as legitimate identification. Faulkner refused, knowing that to follow that order would break the law. A short time later she was fired. She found no support from any legislator and was refused unemployment compensation. In the meantime, an audit revealed some 52,000 welfare recipients using invalid or non-existent social security numbers. A 2011 audit found similar problems.
Last year, Delegate Tony O’Donnell (R-Dist. 29C) proposed HB-28, “Public Benefits — Requirement of Proof of Lawful Presence” which would have addressed the problems identified both by Faulkner and the two audits. The bill reasonably required welfare recipients to prove their eligibility with a valid ID. Help Save Maryland President Brad Botwin and Howard County resident Tom Young both went to Annapolis to testify on the bill’s behalf, each taking significant time off from work to attend the hearing.
Protocol demands that those in favor of the proposed law testify first. In what was characterized as a deliberate slight, the committee chairman, Del. Norman Conway (D-Dist. 38B), instead called a long list of bill opponents, including CASA de Maryland, the ACLU and others. They testified for over an hour, whereupon Del. Conway abruptly ended the hearing and ran from the room, shutting out any possibility of allowing proponents to speak.
Walter Abbott is another Marylander who learned how vindictive Governor O’Malley’s state government can be. Abbott is a family man with two grown children and a wife of 29 years. Abbott lost his drywall business due to competition from illegals. He had written many letters to the governor and testified in Annapolis on the immigration issue.
In early 2008, he responded to an O’Malley campaign website, which featured a popup banner soliciting responses to the question: “How do you feel about the job Governor Martin O’Malley is currently doing for the State of Maryland?” He wrote in the response form, “If I ever got close enough, I’d wrap my hands around your throat and choke the life out of you, you piece of s*&t American sellout.” He included his full name and address.
Within two hours, the state police were at his door. Abbott admits it probably wasn’t the smartest way to express his opinion and issued an apology shortly thereafter. However that day he was arrested and jailed. A $2 million bond was imposed on him by an Hispanic court commissioner. For perspective, violent felons arrested for overtly criminal acts routinely get bond in the low thousands. Abbott spent four days in the county jail. Finally bail was reduced by another judge and he was allowed to go free on his own recognizance.
What followed was a four-year legal battle. The first trial led to a misdemeanor conviction, but only because Judge Dana Levitz refused to allow the jury to consider a First Amendment argument. The jury was left with no choice but to convict. An appeals court threw out the conviction because Judge Levitz had failed to explain the difference between a threat and First Amendment rights.
The state retried the case again in 2011 and lost in a mistrial. They retried it a third time and lost again in a mistrial. Finally in 2012 they decided to drop the case. It is worth noting that the original prosecutor, Leo Ryan, Jr., was an O’Malley crony. He is now a District Court associate judge.
Walter Abbott and his family suffered extreme hardship during this period. He has yet to be reimbursed for the $500 fine he paid, and the property seized the day he was arrested has not been returned. One writer characterized their saga as a “war on a working man.”