Maryland Transportation Secretary Promises Not to Raze Homes in 270/495 Expansion
By Dan Schere
October 12, 2018
An informational public presentation from Maryland state transportation officials took a confrontational turn Thursday night in the Montgomery County Council chamber in Rockville. Several local and state elected officials from Montgomery County expressed concern over what they feel is a lack of transparency in the discussion of plans for the proposed expansion of interstates 270 and 495.
Gov. Larry Hogan proposed a $9 billion project last year that would add four toll lanes to I-270 and on the Maryland portion of the Beltway. The lanes are meant to ease congestion on the two roads.
The project is currently going through the National Environmental Policy Act review process at the federal level, following a series of public hearings and online input sessions.
Hogan has assured the public that the construction will be done entirely within the two roads’ right of ways and will not lead to the demolition of any homes under eminent domain. Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn reiterated that point during Thursday’s meeting.
“No, we’re not going to take your home,” he said.
But state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents Rockville, wasn’t convinced, when a few minutes later, Rahn said there were “no plans” to raze any homes.
“Mr. secretary, I’m a word nerd. I just want to clarify something. Earlier you said ‘we will not.’ Just now you said ‘we have no plans.’ Plans can change,” she said.
Rahn than reassured Kagan definitively that no homes would be taken.
Kagan also criticized the Maryland Department of Transportation for not holding any public meetings in her district during the last year. “The bulk of the impact is going to be in Gaithersburg and Rockville. Our district. These hearings were held in Bethesda, they were held in Frederick, they were held in Greenbelt. You totally ducked the areas where the biggest impact was supposed to be had,” she said.
Rahn then committed to hold a hearing closer to residents who live near the up-county portion of I-270.
Del. Marc Korman, Democrat of Bethesda, also questioned the input process, noting that Rahn had said during the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly that the views of residents and elected officials in each countyeach needed to be taken into account when determining which transportation proposals the state should fund. During that session, Rahn had said the state should take into account the letters sent from local elected officials with a wish list of transportation projects when scoring, or prioritizing funding, projects.
“The number one thing I heard from you during many meetings and hearings and public statements was local input, local input, local input.”
Korman said the 270/495 project was not on the 2017 wish list of transportation projects from Montgomery County officials that was sent to Rahn.
Several residents who live close to I-270 attended the meeting, holding signs that said “Don’t widen 270” and included an illustration of a bulldozer coming toward three homes. Rockville resident Pete Altman, who lives 150 yards from I-270 on Watts Branch Parkway, said he and his neighbors have been anxious since Hogan announced his proposal last year.
“If the highway were to be widened in such a way that houses and part of my neighborhood would have to be paved over, it would significantly affect the quality of our neighborhood. Obviously losing friends and neighbors is no fun either,” he said.
Altman said Hogan and Rahn’s promises not to raze neighborhoods aren’t enough. He wants the promise to be in writing from the governor as a directive to transportation officials.
“At the end of the day, we still are just banking on his [Rahn’s] promise at the dais,” Altman said. “What we need to have is binding language that bars the department of transportation from proposals that take out houses.”
Montgomery Co. residents fear losing homes over plans to widen I-270 and Beltway
By Mike Murillo
October 11, 2018
Many residents holding signs which read “Don’t widen 270 & 495,” and even a person in a dinosaur costume, gathered at a meeting presented by Maryland transportation officials Thursday night.
ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County residents raised concerns, such as losing their homes, over plans to widen Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway.
Many residents holding signs which read “Don’t widen 270 & 495,” and even a person in a dinosaur costume, gathered at a meeting presented by Maryland transportation officials Thursday night.
This comes after the state announced it is studying ways to move cars faster through the area, with options such as the widening of I-270 and the Beltway, and the formation of a private-public partnership that would bring toll lanes to the region.
Many of those in attendance live along I-270 and the Beltway in Montgomery County, and they expressed their concerns that plans to ease traffic congestion on the interstates could cost them their homes.
“We’re concerned about people’s homes being taken,” council member Sidney Katz told Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn.
Katz and others county and state officials pressed the state on the concern, and while Rahn stopped short of agreeing to a binding written agreement, he said the focus is on working with state right of way land for the projects.
“What I have said, in fact what the governor has said, is that we will not be taking homes,” Rahn said.
Congestion on interstate 270 and 495 in the National Capital Region is bad, and the state said congestion issues need to be addressed as the area’s population is expected to reach 1.3 million people by 2040.
Rahn said the state has planners looking at numerous options — which include toll lanes, no toll lanes, and no changes at all — and that the state is very early in the process.
State senator Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents the Rockville and Gaithersburg areas, said the state, so far, has failed to hold meetings in areas that will be affected the most by any construction.
“I encourage you to please make this process transparent and inclusive, whatever decisions are made,” Kagan said.
Rockville resident Linda Dominic, who lives along I-270, said that without something in writing, she remains skeptical about Gov. Larry Hogan’s and transportation leaders’ promise that no homes will be taken to achieve the road widening.
“Everybody’s very suspicious,” Dominic said.
Rahn said concessionaires looking to build, manage and operate toll lanes have been told that during the procurement process, they should stay within state right of way with designs.
“We are minimizing impacts. We’re not going to take homes. Beyond that I don’t know how much more we can say,” Rahn said.
The state said it is studying potential designs, which include reversible toll lanes, cars-only tunnels and “cut-and-cantilever” tunnels that use lower-level toll lanes and even express bus lanes.
“If they stack the Beltway up two lanes high, instead of taking road, then what is that going to do to the sound,” said Silver Spring resident Walton Smith, who lives along the Beltway.
Residents can submit comment and options to state officials through the project’s website.
MOCO REPS JOIN OTHER STATE AND LOCAL POLITICIANS FOR WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING
October 5, 2018
Three Democratic state senators from Montgomery County spent more than three hours Thursday at the Executive Office Building listening as several federal officials spoke about various Trump administration policies.
Senators Cheryl Kagan (Dist. 17), Will Smith (Dist. 20) and Brian Feldman (Dist. 15) were among 125 state and local politicians from Maryland and Delaware to attend the White House briefing. Most of those in attendance were Republicans, according to Kagan.
The opioid crisis, transportation grants, veterans’ health care and the census were some of the issues discussed.
“As I expected, the speakers were on message” and shared the administration’s policies, Kagan said.
However, a question-and-answer period followed the speeches, and Kagan managed to pose a question to a representative from the U.S. Department of Transportation about the need for funding for the Metro public transit system, she said.
Kagan said she pointed out more than one-third of Metro riders, which include many tourists from around the country as well as federal workers commuting to work, as a reason why more federal dollars are needed.
“He gave me a disrespectfully dismissive answer,” Kagan recalled.
The high-level official from DOT said she “should talk to Congress about that.” He then “completely dismissed the concept of the federal government doing their fair share,” Kagan said.
Another politician questioned U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross about why the administration wants a citizenship question placed on the census.
Ross “completely ducked it. He didn’t answer it at all,” Kagan said. “He just talked about how we are going to count everybody” and that the 2020 census would be confidential.
When first invited, Kagan had mulled whether to attend as she is no fan of the President Donald Trump and his policies, she had explained at the time.
She even turned to Facebook to ask her followers if she should go. She received a mix of replies with the consensus that she should go.
Following the session, Kagan said she didn’t regret going. She cited her curiosity, the need for engagement and “an eagerness to confront them on key issues” as her reasons for going.
She said she appreciated the chance to engage with both her Maryland colleagues and representatives from the administration.
Kagan said the event included “a lengthy line” to go through security after which the politicians were offered bottled water and a Wi-Fi password to use for the day.
MoCo Elected Officials Discuss Metro Funding, Other Issues During White House Visit
By Dan Schere
October 5, 2018
Several elected officials from Montgomery County visited the White House on Thursday to meet with officials in the Trump administration, including U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Those who attended included Democratic state Sens. Cheryl Kagan (Rockville), Brian Feldman (North Potomac/Poolesville) and Will Smith (Silver Spring/Takoma Park), along with County Council member George Leventhal.
After the visit, Kagan said a variety of local and state officials from across Maryland and Delaware had attended the meeting. The officials discussed a number of issues, including the census, the opioid crisis and transportation.
Kagan said she asked administration officials whether Maryland could receive additional federal grant money to help fund Metro, but was promptly directed to reach out to Congress. She said the response was essentially a “blow off.”
“I said that if you are committed to safety and being a good federal partner, more than one-third of Metro riders are federal employees,” she said.
Last year, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood determined that Metro needed an additional $500 million per year in dedicated funding, according to The Washington Post. In March, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia agreed to collectively provide that amount, with Maryland contributing $167 million. The federal government also currently provides $150 million annual for the transit system.
“I believe that the Trump administration has completely abdicated its responsibility regarding federal funding for Metro’s safety. With federal employees as more than one-third of the ridership, they really should pay their fair share,” she said.
Kagan said she wasn’t surprised the administration was dismissive of state and local transportation concerns, but she was still pleased about getting the opportunity to “hold the administration accountable.”
Leventhal said the visit was mostly “one-sided presentations,” including one from a representative of the Department of Housing and Urban Development who “seemed a little fuzzy on the details of what her agency does.”
Leventhal said he asked Ross during one session whether he would reconsider the commerce department’s decision to include a question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census short form.
“He said he couldn’t talk about it a great deal because it was under litigation,” Leventhal said.
Asked whether the visit was worth it, Leventhal said he wasn’t sure it was “all that useful for Montgomery County.”
Rep. Andy Harris says his wrist was bruised during protest that shows ‘problem with political discourse today’
Luke Broadwater and Jeff Barker
The Baltimore Sun
October 3, 2018
Police arrested two marijuana legalization advocates Tuesday outside Rep. Andy Harris’ office, and the Baltimore County congressman said he bruised his wrist during an encounter with the activists that “demonstrates the problem with political discourse today.”
The Maryland Marijuana Justice protesters — Rachel Donlan, 46, of Washington, and Kris Furnish, 28, of Salisbury — were demonstrating around 12:15 p.m. against Harris’ opposition to legalization efforts, according to Adam Eidinger, a well-known legalization advocate who helped organize the action on Capitol Hill.
“They tried to talk to the congressman,” Eidinger said. “He ran past them and slammed the door in their face. He got on the other side of the door and was pushing the door shut. He caught Rachel’s foot in the door. She screamed. She was in a lot of pain.”
Harris, the lone Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, offered a differing account.
The congressman’s office said in an email that the protesters “sought to forcibly enter the office” as Harris entered through a private door, “bruising his wrist as they tried to force the door open.”
From Baltimore County, Rep. Harris takes an active role in District of Columbia
According to a video Eidinger posted on social media, Donlan and Furnish then lay down outside the office and began smoking marijuana, and U.S. Capitol Police arrested them.
Police said the protesters were charged with consumption of marijuana in a prohibited public space. It is illegal to smoke marijuana on federal property in Washington.
The protesters “were observed to display and light marijuana cigarettes,” according to a police statement. It said police had “responded to a report of unlawful demonstration activity” and that the officers “were informed that the demonstrators were attempting to enter the office.”
Eidinger moved from Washington to the Eastern Shore to try to defeat Harris, who in 2014 worked to block full legalization of the drug in the District of Columbia.
Harris’ office did not make the congressman available for an interview.
In a written statement, he said: “Today’s aggression by protesters who disagree with my position on the legalization of recreational marijuana demonstrates the problem with political discourse today. We all must agree to have a civilized debate when disagreement occurs.
“I reject the recent comments of one of my House colleagues who encouraged harassment of political opponents, saying, ‘You get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.’ As Rep. Steve Scalise understands all too well and tweeted today — ‘Assaulting anyone because you disagree with them is NEVER acceptable.’ ”
Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, made the statement about pushback in June. It followed instances in which Trump administration officials were confronted by protesters.
Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was shot in the hip in 2017 by a gunman who opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game. He returned to Congress later that year.
“This is outrageous,” Scalise, the House majority whip, tweeted Tuesday. “I’m glad @RepAndyHarrisMD is okay.”
Maryland Marijuana Justice had announced the demonstration on Twitter to highlight the congressman’s “callous attitude towards DC and Maryland’s opioid epidemic.”
The group had a name for the event. It called it an “overdose.”
11 Md. lawmakers call for Montgomery County investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh
By Ovetta Wiggins and Dan Morse
The Washington Post
Several Maryland lawmakers representing Montgomery County are calling on local law enforcement officials to investigate the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, arguing the state’s statute of limitations may not apply to some allegations.
“We request an investigation be conducted if Christine Blasey Ford or other complainants support such an investigation,” reads the letter, which was signed by 11 of the 24 members of the county’s House delegation. “We believe local law enforcement has the authority to investigate allegations of crimes without need for a formal complaint, and we further believe third parties have standing to bring such complaints.”
The letter from the Democratic lawmakers comes on the eve of Kavanaugh’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. It is signed by Dels. Kumar Barve, Al Carr, Bonnie Cullison, Ariana B. Kelly, Marc Korman, David Moon, Pam Queen, Kirill Reznik, Shane Robinson, Ana Sol Gutierrez and Jeff Waldstreicher.
Capt. Paul Starks, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Police Department, said Wednesday the department is aware of the letter and is preparing a response to it. He noted that Montgomery detectives follow a “victim-centered” model for sexual assault investigations and cited a statement on the Kavanaugh allegations released by the department two days ago.
The statement read, in part: “The department recognizes that victims of sexual assault may not want to involve law enforcement and/or initiate a criminal investigation, and we respect that position. The department, however, stands prepared to assist anyone who reports being the victim of a sexual assault.”
Earlier this month, Ford went public with her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. She said he corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teens at a house in Montgomery County more than three decades ago.
Since Ford’s allegation, two other women have come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh. He has denied all the accusations.
“County officials may be within the jurisdiction to pursue such an inquiry and are uniquely positioned to investigate publicly announced allegations of sex assaults that may have occurred within our borders,” reads the letter, which was sent to the county chief of police, the county prosecutor and attorneys Michael Avenatti and Debra Katz, who each represent one of the three accusers.
Last week, state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery) wrote a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) asking him to direct the state police to investigate. Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said in a statement that state police are “free to investigate any matter in accordance with established procedures. The governor has never used the state police to pursue investigations at his personal whim. That is a very dangerous and slippery slope.”
In a separate statement, the Maryland State Police said: “It is the policy of the Maryland State Police to initiate a criminal investigation when a criminal complaint is filed. There has been no complaint filed with the Maryland State Police regarding this issue.
“In addition, the Maryland State Police has a memorandum of understanding with Montgomery County that requires any crime of this nature to be investigated by the Montgomery County Police. As such it would be the responsibility of the Montgomery County Police to investigate an alleged sexual assault.”
Kagan invited to White House in October
Professional athletes aren’t the only ones contemplating the merits of a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
Maryland State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (Dist. 17) spent the past few days mulling whether to accept an invitation to the White House.
She recently received an email inviting state and local officials to the White House during the first week of October.
“I don’t know if there was a dozen or hundreds” of other politicians receiving the same email, she said. She knows directly of just one other person invited.
The email itself was short, she said. “Frankly, there was a real lack of details.”
Kagan, no fan of President Donald Trump, wasn’t sure she wanted to attend.
She turned to Facebook, asking her followers what they thought.
Her post read: “I’m curious as to your opinion. The White House has invited me (among lots of other legislators, I assume) to a meeting there. Would you suggest that I boycott because of my opinions about Trump policies? Or do you think I should attend because of the opportunity to engage on important issues facing our state?”
One-hundred and sixty-six people commented.
The results were “mixed,” Kagan said.
“There was a consensus that I should, which I was inclined to do,” she said in a recent telephone interview.
Some of her followers who want her to attend wrote: “I’d go so they can’t operate in a vacuum;” “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer;” and “Go and Give them Hell!”
A few others who advocated for Kagan to attend warned her not to get trapped into a photo shoot with President Trump that might seem like she was a supporter.
Those opposing her appearance wrote: “Boycott. This is not a normal White House and not worthy of respect” and “Stay away.”
As of now, Kagan intends to attend.
“I have decided it seems wise to go. I have a great disdain for this President and his dangerous policies, but we are talking about the President of the United States and the very powerful executive branch,” explained the senator, who represents the Rockville and Gaithersburg area.
She doesn’t expect Trump to be there but does think members of his staff and policy wonks will be.
If she has the chance, Kagan intends to speak with a member of Trump’s staff about bringing more federal dollars to Maryland.
“I would seek to lobby about funding for 911 upgrades and our Metro system,” she said.
Updating the emergency 911 system “is very expensive. Federal funds will be a great help,” she explained.
As for public transportation, Kagan noted that “about one-third of Metro riders are federal employees.”
Therefore, she said, the federal government needs to allocate funds. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia “have all stepped up,” she said.
A lack of additional Metro money from the federal government “seems irresponsible,” Kagan said.
Bethesda resident describes “Culture of Privilege” leading to exploitation and abuse
By Brian Karem
September 26, 2018
(Editor’s note: The Sentinel Newspapers conducted an interview with a woman who recently came forward to speak with us regarding events that occurred during the time former Georgetown Prep student and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went to high school. We have authenticated her background and offered her anonymity because we believe her voice deserves to be heard and we respect her desire for privacy. For the purposes of this interview we will call her Elizabeth. She is married and has been for more than 20 years. She has more than one child but said she wanted to speak out for her teenage daughter and “everyone else’s daughter including my mother’s daughter.”)
Elizabeth grew up in Montgomery County. In retrospect she said life in Bethesda was one of privilege, “though I did not realize it when I was younger.”
Raised in a “very strict” Catholic family, she remembers her First Communion dress with pride. “It was white and had lace, but it was understated and my mother told me how beautiful I looked in it.”
She went to private Catholic schools her entire life. In high school she was shy, but traveled in the same social circles as both Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“I knew them both and liked them both though we didn’t see each other often,” she said.
As a 15-year-old in the early 80s Elizabeth remembers riding with friends through Damascus during the Fall of 1982 when the Ku Klux Klan handed out flyers. She remembers a group of kids from Olney she read about in the local newspaper who were her age and got arrested for being part of a burglary ring. “These were not innocent times,” she said. “I read news reports from members of Congress who said there wasn’t much going on back then and how innocent everything was. Like there’s no way this went on. Well, they’re lying or they lived under a rock.”
Mostly, she said, she remembers how boys and girls interacted at the time. “There were people who got away with everything. And there were people who didn’t. If you had money, or were on the winning football team, or both, you didn’t have limits. Everyone else did.”
She was told boys often acted out and to be careful. Her mother warned her about boys who got too “handsy” and was told as a Catholic girl how to politely rebuke them. Her friends warned her about the “nice boys” who would change when they had something to drink. “I thought maybe they got angry. At first I didn’t know what they were talking about.”
She found out soon enough. “I’m not saying every boy was like that,” she explains. “But I ran into more than one who did something inappropriate.” It was usually verbal, but sometimes physical and Elizabeth said she kept herself away from “those boys” when she could and often had a girl friend with her, “because it was always safer than being alone,” she explained.
“We weren’t a wild bunch, but if we had a whiff of parents going away for the weekend, we had a ‘parent’s going away’ party. We didn’t always know the house though we knew the neighborhood and we’d have to go from house to house looking for a familiar car.”
For Elizabeth the allure was the social atmosphere of being with friends and talking without supervision and without judgment from adults. “We put on music. There was Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Talking Heads. We’d dance. And I didn’t even like beer, but it was free and we’d drink and dance.”
Elizabeth said she infrequently saw Brett Kavanaugh during this time – often at house parties. “He was cute. He was always nice,” she said. One night she ran across an apparently inebriated Brett Kavanaugh and things went differently then. Previously, he had always been nice to her. “ But not that night. He was drunk. He was obnoxious and crude. I had a friend with me and we left. His football buddies were laughing at us. Maybe they were laughing at him, but I didn’t take it that way and they didn’t do anything to keep him from being a jerk.”
From that point on Elizabeth said she steered clear of Kavanaugh and didn’t see any more sexually explicit behavior because, “I didn’t want to be around those guys.” She was not present at the party described by Ford – or doesn’t believe she was. She also said she never saw Kavanaugh assault anyone.
But, from her experience, she said she has no problem believing Dr. Ford’s allegations and said Ford should be heard without politics being involved. “I don’t think that’s possible today. I’m afraid for my daughter. How do we make this less politicized? People are criticizing her for coming forward, but she moved to California. He wasn’t in her life. Now he’s everywhere and could be part of the Supreme Court. It was just high school, but that kind of trauma lasts and no one should be judged for coming forward as she did. It took great courage. Maybe he genuinely doesn’t remember what happened because he blacked out. He deserves to be heard too. He shouldn’t be convicted without being heard either.”
Elizabeth says she knows all too well about the resulting trauma inflicted by a sexually aggressive boy. It happened to her the following year with a boy from a Catholic high school. “They’re all the same. Privileged, spoiled, powerful and unaccountable. They can get away with anything.”
Traveling in the backseat of a car to a keg party at a farm off of Darnestown road “That today is a subdivision in a cow pasture,” a young boy became very aggressive with her. “I had known him since we were kids,” she explained. “He grabbed me. I was scared. I was in the backseat of the car and he kept telling me ‘No’ means ‘Yes,’ every time I told him to stop.”
She never made it to the party. When the car slowed for a stop light in Rockville, she said she opened the passenger door and jumped out. “I walked all the way home to Bethesda,” she said. “How stupid was I?”
She didn’t tell her parents. She didn’t tell her friends. She didn’t tell anyone for years until she saw the boy’s grown sister at a local Giant Super Market. “I put it behind me and then it all came back. I told my husband and I cried – this was 20 years later. It stays with you.”
After Dr. Ford came forward Elizabeth decided against filing a complaint, but said she spoke with The Sentinel because she wants “real issues” to be discussed.
“It’s about privilege and how we take it for granted and use it,” she said.
“We looked down on the public school kids. We looked down on pot smokers. That wasn’t socially acceptable in my crowd. We grew up in a culture of privilege. We all came from great, comfortable homes and almost everyone I hung around with was white. The right pedigree meant we got away with it. The cops chased us from one place to another – but they didn’t arrest us. They knew our parents – the judges and lawyers and high paid professionals in the county. It was a small club in a large county and we were at the top of the pyramid. Brett Kavanaugh was part of that crowd. I was. All of my friends were. But the question I ask myself today is, in light of everything that goes on do we want someone sitting in judgment of everyone else who has never had to face the consequences everyone else faces?”
She said she will remain anonymous because she doesn’t want her “life torn apart. And I think the issue isn’t about me. It’s about the conditions that allow the privileged attitude toward women to continue to this day.”
Brett Kavanaugh admits to ‘juvenile misbehavior,’ denies sexual assault in testimony
By Alex Swoyer
The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh will admit to “misbehavior” and excessive drinking during his high school years, but will tell the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that he never sexually assaulted anyone then or since.
In the Supreme Court nominee’s prepared opening statement, shared by the committee on Wednesday, Judge Kavanaugh calls sexual assault “morally wrong” and “contrary to my religious faith.”
He said he does not question accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that she was sexually assaulted at a high school party, but denied he was involved in any way.
“I spent most of my time in high school focused on academics, sports, church, and service. But I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today,” the judge says.
He adds: “I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now. But that’s not why we are here today. What I’ve been accused of is far more serious than juvenile misbehavior. I never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes.”
Ms. Blasey Ford is set to testify before Judge Kavanaugh’s turn Thursday morning about her accusation.
Judicial Crisis Network On Kavanaugh Allegations: ‘We Have To Look Into This Further’
By Paige Lavender and Paul Blumenthal
September 26, 2018
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, would not definitively state Wednesday that Judge Brett Kavanaugh should still be confirmed as a Supreme Court associate justice, saying allegations of misconduct should be further examined.
“I think we have to look into this further,” Severino said when asked by MSNBC’s Craig Melvin whether Kavanaugh should still be confirmed. “From what we know so far, we don’t have corroboration yet. If the Senate votes on this soon, I think they would have to go on what they know so far. I know the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to look into this before they would move forward to a vote.”
Severino clarified her remarks in a tweet Wednesday afternoon, saying her group still fully supports Kavanaugh.
The Judicial Crisis Network sits at the center of a network of groups and conservative legal activists behind the selection of judges by President Donald Trump. JCN was co-founded by Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society executive who pushed Kavanaugh’s nomination on Trump, as the society’s political arm to publicly advocate for judicial nominees.
The role of JCN is to publicly support those nominees with seven-figure television advertising buys and extensive advocacy on television programs, such as the one Severino, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appeared on.
Severino’s public comments on Kavanaugh are significant ― it’s her job to promote Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and she’s previously been one of his biggest defenders. She told MSNBC on Tuesday that the accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh are part of a “partisan smear campaign” led by Democrats.
In a Sept. 18 interview with CNN, Severino downplayed the accusations of Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her and tried to remove her clothes at a party when the two were in high school in the 1980s. Severino said Blasey’s accusations “cover a whole range of conduct, from boorishness to rough horseplay to actual attempted rape.”
“There’s 35 years of memory that we’re trying to play with here, and I’m saying the behavior she described could describe a whole range of things,” Severino said.
The White House continued to stand by its candidate, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling CNBC that Trump still has confidence in his pick.
Gov. Hogan rules out state police investigation of Kavanaugh allegations; Montgomery County police not investigating
By Michael Dresser
The Baltimore Sun
September 25, 2018
Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday ruled out involving the Maryland State Police in any investigation of allegations that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl more than 30 years ago in Montgomery County.
The Republican governor was asked at a news conference about a letter Democratic state Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Montgomery sent him. She urged Hogan to take the step because the White House has not ordered the FBI to look into the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford about Kavanaugh’s actions at a high school party.
Hogan said he had not heard about the request, but he immediately turned it down.
“The Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this,” he said. Hogan did not elaborate on his reasons.
Spokesmen for state and county police said Friday they would not investigate unless they received a complaint — which they said has not happened. State police also said that, in any case, they have an agreement with county police that means local officials investigate such crimes in their jurisdiction.
Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, alleges the then-17-year-old Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom during the party 36 years ago, pinned her down with his body and sexually assaulted her while trying to take off her clothes. She says that when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth, putting her in fear for her life. According to Ford, another boy in the room piled onto the bed, allowing her to escape.
She has said she did not report the incident at the time because of embarrassment and fear of punishment by her parents.
Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, has unequivocally denied Ford’s allegations. Trump has stood behind his nominee, and tweeted Friday that “if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”
Grassley says he’ll give Kavanaugh accuser more time to decide whether to testify before committee Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have backed Trump’s decision not to involve the FBI.
Hogan is less than two months from a November election in which he is seeking to become the first Republican governor of Maryland to win a second term since 1954. He is opposed by Democrat Ben Jealous.
In her letter, Kagan said Hogan knows the importance of an independent investigation because he signed legislation calling for such an action in cases of sexual harassment allegations against General Assembly members.
“Since you know the importance of an independent investigation, you must step up where members of your party on Capitol Hill fell down, and direct the Maryland State Police to initiate an investigation into Professor Ford’s allegations,” Kagan wrote.
Kagan said she made the request to Hogan because he is “the leader of our state.”
“It’s disappointing that Governor Hogan won’t stand up for Maryland women,” she said. “Hogan has direct authority over the Maryland State Police. He can encourage local action, but he can take state action.”
Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said the state police are free to investigate all matters that fall under their established guidelines. Chasse said to use the state police to investigate such a matter would be going down “a very dangerous and slippery slope.”
“The governor has never used the state police to pursue investigations at his personal whim,” she said.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police, said the department’s policy is to initiate a criminal investigation when a criminal complaint is filed. He said no one has filed a complaint about the Kavanaugh matter.
Shipley added that state police have a memorandum of understanding with Montgomery County that requires any crime such as sexual assault to be investigated by county police.
A county police spokesman, Officer Rick Goodale, said the department would not investigate the matter unless it received a formal complaint. The police department on Monday released a statement saying it had not received a request from an alleged victim or attorney to investigate Kavanaugh.
The county state’s attorney’s office declined to comment except to say no charges have been filed in the matter.
Kavanaugh’s classmates at Georgetown Prep describe alcohol-soaked party culture
Chasse said that at the time of the news conference, Hogan had not received Kagan’s letter. The spokeswoman said it arrived at the governor’s office shortly before 4 p.m. — hours after Kagan sent out a press release criticizing Hogan’s decision.
Legal experts doubt that a case could be made against Kavanaugh even if someone makes a complaint.
For one thing, if attempted rape in the first degree was the most appropriate charge, that was a misdemeanor in the 1980s in Maryland. It did not become a felony in the state until 1996. Former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who also served as Montgomery County state’s attorney, noted that Maryland’s statute of limitations for misdemeanors for an offense committed in the 1980s expired long ago.
Gansler, a Democrat, also noted Kavanaugh was a juvenile at the time, further complicating any investigation and prosecution. He said the type of acts that have been alleged are not ones for which juveniles are typically charged as adults.
Even if charges could be brought, Gansler said that based on the accounts he’s seen, it would be difficult to prove an alleged assailant had the intent to complete a forcible rape and would not have stopped short of that.
Kavanaugh Classmate Who Wrote of Partying Goes Silent
By The Associated Press
The New York Times
Sept. 25, 2018
WASHINGTON — Mark Judge spent decades mining his recollections and writing books and articles full of semi-confessional details about the suburban Maryland prep school he attended with future Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Now, though, Judge’s memory has drawn a blank.
Judge, identified by Christine Blasey Ford as an eyewitness to her claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a 1980s teen party, has said he has “no memory” of the episode. Ford, now a college professor in California, claims Judge watched the attack and urged Kavanaugh on. Judge told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week: “I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford’s letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.”
Over much of his adult life, Judge has dived back repeatedly into his memories of Georgetown Preparatory School student life in the early 1980s, and his two memoirs and a cluster of internet essays provide cautionary takes on his prep school days and boozy weekend rounds as a teenage drinker. Judge’s book “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk” surveyed his alcohol-fueled escapades in high school and college, a time of “drinking and smoking and hooking up,” he wrote in a 2015 essay on the Acculturated website.
After Judge was publicly identified by Ford, some former Georgetown Prep classmates sifted through their own memories, trying to reconcile their recollections with Ford’s account.
Those classmates said they could not recall any instances where Kavanaugh acted similarly to Ford’s account. But three classmates, one speaking publicly and the other two speaking anonymously, portrayed Judge as a bullying presence during classes, and at weekend parties where athletes gathered at night to tap kegs of beer and woo girls from nearby schools. The two who requested anonymity did so out of concern that talking publicly about this issue could jeopardize their business and professional relationships within the tight-knit Georgetown Prep community.
Maryland state Sen. Richard Madaleno, who was in Georgetown Prep’s 1983 graduating class with Kavanaugh and Judge, sharply remembers Judge as “nasty to other people.”
“He was an unhappy person who dealt with his own demons by making other people unhappy,” Madaleno said, “especially those of us who he perceived to be on a lower rung of the high school ladder.” A Democrat who mounted an unsuccessful 2018 candidacy for Maryland governor, Madaleno said if he had been asked 25 years ago who was the most difficult person at the school, “I would have answered Mark Judge.”
Although Kavanaugh and Judge played on the school’s football team and partied together, Madaleno did not remember the future judge the same way. “There’s no guilt by association,” he said.
Two other Georgetown Prep classmates elaborated on Judge’s “bully” persona at the time: Quick-witted and adroit with insults, he taunted kids with weight problems or foreign names. He dismissed many of those outside of his circle as “losers.” He questioned the sexuality of members of the school’s swim team. He sometimes openly mocked teachers and priests.
“He had a way of being funny at other peoples’ expense,” one former classmate said. “You’d want to be on his good side so that you weren’t his target.”
Judge’s lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said he “is not speaking during the pendency of the Kavanaugh hearings.”
A Washington Post reporter caught up with Judge on Monday in Bethany Beach, Delaware, where he had been holed up in a beachfront house in recent days, ordered by Van Gelder to leave town. “How’d you find me?” is all he said.
“He is a recovering alcoholic and is under unbelievable stress,” Van Gelder told the Post.
The Delaware and Maryland shores are habitats that Judge has sketched repeatedly in his writings, describing liquor-soaked parties where he and his prep school mates drank themselves into stupors and desperately tried to lose their virginity. In a scene in “Wasted,” Judge described a drunken chat with several friends that mentioned what some classmates suggest is a very thinly veiled reference to Kavanaugh.
Asked about a friend named “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” Judge replies that “he’s around here somewhere,” and then is told, “I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.”
In “God and Man at Georgetown Prep,” a book about his school days, Judge writes that “Prep was a school positively swimming in alcohol, and my class partied with gusto — often right under the noses of our teachers.” Judge added that “my class of 80 decided that we would drink 100 kegs of beer.”
Both Kavanaugh’s and Judge’s yearbook entries contain references to “100 KEGS or Bust.” Kavanaugh is also listed as “Keg City Club (Treasurer).”
But while the classmates say they were aware that Brett Kavanaugh attended some of the weekend house parties and summer beach gatherings with football team members and other friends, they never saw any evidence that he was a heavy drinker in the way that Judge describes himself at the time.
One of the classmates, who said he attended several parties with Kavanaugh and Judge, said: “Brett would have at most two or three beers. Other guys would down twice that amount.”
Charles Koones, who graduated a year ahead of Kavanaugh and Judge, said Judge’s recollections of a drunken, sex-infused Georgetown Prep did not match his own. While students at the school did drink and have parties, Koones said, he doubted Judge’s recollections of a teacher admonishing the class over how many pregnancies its members had caused.
“I never knew that to happen,” he said. “And I wasn’t one of the shrinking violets.”
Koones said he remembered Kavanaugh from the school’s football team and recalled him fondly. He declined to offer thoughts on the sexual assault allegations, but said he found the school’s portrayal to be unfortunate.
“The whole thing is a crying shame,” he said. “The Prep community is confident in the positive things we put into the world.”
Witte contributed to this report from Annapolis, Maryland, and Ashraf Khalil from Washington.
White House invite a dilemma for Kagan
BY Jared Foretek
Washington Jewish Week
September 25, 2018
Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) gets a lot of email — constituent requests, staff correspondence, meeting scheduling. But a couple of weeks ago, she got an email she wasn’t expecting. It came from the White House, and it included an invitation.
“To be clear, I’m a Democrat and I worked really hard to help elect Hillary Clinton,” Kagan told WJW. “So I’m not an obvious invitee to much of anything that’s going on in the White House right now. I dislike President [Donald] Trump’s policies and character.”
Kagan — whose district includes much of Montgomery County — still isn’t sure what exactly she’s been invited to on Oct. 4. She said the message mentioned local elected officials, so she suspects it will have something to do with the Washington region, but she can’t say for sure.
Either way, though, the invitation posed a dilemma for a politician seeking her second term in November. She doesn’t like the White House and doesn’t want to be seen as endorsing its policies or inhabitants. But she also doesn’t want to pass up an opportunity to lobby for the region.
“I had absolutely no interest in lending support or credibility to almost anything I could envision this White House doing,” Kagan said. “At the same time, if I have an opportunity to talk to any decision-makers about funding for our 911 [emergency call] centers or our Metro system, it seems appropriate to snag that opportunity.”
With the RSVP deadline looming, Kagan was torn. So she came up with a way to break the internal tie: On her personal Facebook page, where she said she has nearly 5,000 “friends,” she explained the predicament and asked for advice.
“I’m curious as to your opinion,” she wrote on Sept. 13. “The White House has invited me (among lots of other legislators, I assume) to a meeting there. Would you suggest that I boycott because of my opinions about Trump policies? Or do you think I should attend because of the opportunity to engage on important issues facing our state?”
Almost immediately the responses began rolling in. As of Sept. 24, the post had racked up 166 comments. By
Kagan’s unofficial tally, most supported her going.
“Go, and be a voice of reason and intelligence,” wrote Marla Rosenthal. “Something that is clearly lacking these days!”
Others didn’t see the point.
“No one is listening is the problem with that strategy,” responded Paula Yanoshik.
Kagan’s decided to attend the event, whatever it is. She said she was leaning that way to begin with, but the response from friends convinced her that it was the right call. She readily admits that the vast majority of her Facebook friends are Democrats, so she wasn’t expecting many enthusiastic exclamations of “MAGA.”
But Kagan said she enjoys using social media to both be accessible and poll friends and constituents.
“I love engaging on social media and seeking the wisdom of my super-smart Facebook friends,” Kagan said. “They’re a cross-section of people I respect. I was curious to read their thoughts. … I’ve never been a finger-in-the-wind elected official, but I find it informative.”
She said she doesn’t expect Trump to be present, but that either way she’ll be keeping an eye out for cameras or anything that could portray her giving the administration her support.
Kagan’s been to the White House before, and insists that it’s an awe-inspiring place. But, she said, its current occupant has diminished it.
“If an American can go to the White House and not feel inspired by the symbolism, the architecture, the art, the grandeur of it, they have no soul,” she said. “It is a little bit tarnished by [Trump], but it is still the center of America’s executive branch and therefore one of the most important addresses in the world.”
In a reply to Kagan’s Facebook post, Jeffrey Bochner wrote: “Democracy is a participatory sport. Can’t change things if you don’t go. Decisions are made by those who show up.”
When asked whether she would hesitate to accept an invite from any Republican administration, Kagan took a long pause and said no, Trump is unique.
“The Trump presidency is so mercurial, extreme and dangerous that it seemed prudent to reflect carefully before responding.”
Yes? No? Maybe so
Below is a sampling of the responses Nancy Floreen got on Facebook when she asked whether she should accept an invitation to the White House.
“Go. If you are not at the table, you could be on the menu.” — Ken Sagar
“You can certainly attend as a form of protest. I’d wear a shirt that says #MeToo.” — Eric Levy
“Go … don’t be a snowflake.” — T Edwin Doss
“Please go, and take a knee.” — Laura Zucker
“Personally I would boycott. But if you go wear something that visibly expresses your dissent with his illegitimate regime.” — Sharon Gelman
“Don’t go. You won’t get anything out of it and any suggestions you give them won’t be taken seriously anyway.” — Saqib Ali
“Wear your chastity belt. And a police camera. Don’t sit next to Donald if you can help it.” —Christina Ginsberg
County Exec Candidates Square off in Sentinel Debate
By Neal Earley
ROCKVILLE — If there is any more evidence needed to show that Montgomery County will have a contested general election for County Executive for the first time in decades, — Monday night’s debate is definitive proof.
The three candidates vying to succeed Ike Leggett as County Executive squared off in a contentious debate Monday night at the Montgomery County Council Office Building, offering different visions for the County’s future and trading personal jabs. Sentinel Executive Editor Brian Karem and columnist Paul K. Schwartz moderated the debate among the three candidates.
The event began with just the two at-large members of the County Council, Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen.
With Republican candidate Robin Ficker absent at the start of the debate, Floreen and Elrich began outlying their vision for the County’s economic future.
Elrich, who won a tightly-contested Democratic primary with businessman David Blair, led the Council’s decision to pass an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020. Elrich said he is skeptical of the County’s decision toward development, arguing the developers need to pay more for schools and infrastructure.
Elrich, who has objected to calls that he is anti-business, which in part prompted a run from the Democrat-turned-independent Floreen, said he supports business, just not unnecessary government incentives to commercial developers.
“Look, I view business as, they are the employers that make the County tick,” Elrich said. “The fact that I don’t believe in giveaways to certain developers is different than how I feel about that.”
Floreen began her opening statements addressing the difficult political environment, saying the County needs a stable leader who can guide it through political turmoil in Washington D.C. as well as work with whoever is in the Governor’s Mansion next year.
Floreen said the County is done with tax increase after the County Council unanimously approved an 8.7 percent property tax increase. Floreen has tried to position herself as a business-friendly moderate who will streamline the County’s procurement process and provide more outreach to local business who feel like their concerns are ignored by local leaders.
“This is a diverse, it’s a complex community. I’m committed to addressing all of our needs without having to raise taxes,” Floreen said.
New Brett Kavanaugh Allegations Not Handled By Montgomery Police
By Payton Potter
BETHESDA, MD — As a California woman prepares to testify that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both prep school students in Bethesda, reports of another high school misdeed were published by one news site, but Montgomery County Police have said the department has no knowledge of the accusation.
The Montgomery County Sentinel reported investigators are looking into allegations by a second woman against Kavanaugh tied to a party during his senior year of high school. The source who claims to know about the investigation wasn’t named, but a Montgomery County police spokesman told Patch the department is not investigating any related allegations. On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford of California, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in reference to her allegations that a stumbling drunk Kavanaugh pinned her down and groped her when he was a junior at Georgetown Prep school and she attended the nearby all-girls Holton-Arms school.
But since that initial allegation of misconduct, allegations of misconduct by Deborah Ramirez, 53, of Boulder, Colorado, have surfaced from the time they both attended Yale University. Kavanaugh maintains that the alleged assaults did not happen.
Furthermore, Montgomery County Police last week told Bethesda Magazine that unless a complaint is filed with the department, they will not conduct an investigation into the accusations. State Senator Cheryl Kagan, meanwhile, has urged Hogan to step in and conduct an investigation following the White House’s refusal to involve the FBI in allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford.
“It has been distressing to watch the Republicans in the U.S. Senate to try to jam this nomination through an incomplete confirmation process,” Kagan told Bethesda Magazine. “Because this is a lifetime appointment with only nine members on the Supreme Court, I would hope that Governor Hogan would want the U.S. Senate to have as much information as possible about Kavanaugh’s character.”
Governor Larry Hogan said Friday that Maryland’s state police will not investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh. A spokesman for Maryland State Police told the Baltimore Sun on Friday that they would not launch an investigation unless they received a complaint.
Ford told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh and a friend were both deeply intoxicated when they ushered her into a bedroom in Montgomery County. She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and, while his former Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge watched, and groped her over her clothes.
Kavanaugh ground his body against hers, she alleged, and tried to take off both her one-piece bathing suit and clothes she was wearing over it. Ford said she tried to scream but that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand.
The allegations of misconduct by Ramirez as told to New Yorker magazine say,”I remember a penis being in front of my face,” Ramirez said. She admitted she had been drinking and her memories were unclear. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.
Attorney Michael Avenatti addressed the Ramirez claims on Twitter, writing that his client, an anonymous woman, has credible information regarding Kavaugh and his former Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge.
In an email from Avenatti to Mike Davis, chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee, the attorney claims the witness is prepared to meet with the FBI to further discuss her accusations.
He later tweeted that his client has previously done work within the State Department, U.S. Mint and Department of Justice. “She has been granted multiple security clearances in the past including Public Trust & Secret,” Avenatti wrote. “The GOP and others better be very careful in trying to suggest that she is not credible.”
The White House on Sunday released a statement from Kavanaugh denying the allegations by Ramirez.
“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen,” read a quote attributed to Kavanaugh on a White House webpage seemingly dedicated to debunking Ramirez’s claims. “The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.”
Image: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves his home Sept. 19 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Kavanaugh is scheduled to appear again before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday following allegations that have endangered his appointment to the Supreme Court.
5 MORE DIRTY TRICKS DEMOCRATS COULD STILL TRY TO DERAIL BRETT KAVANAUGH
By Joel B. Pollak
Democrats are determined to sink Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court even if Christine Blasey Ford’s original accusation unravels — as it is beginning to do, with all four named witnesses thus far contradicting her story.
But the left is not above dirty tricks — such as failing to mention the accusation against Kavanaugh until after the confirmation hearings — and there are several more Democrats could pull that might have the potential to block Kavanaugh regardless.
1. Create additional accusations. Even assuming that Dr. Ford’s story is true, one of the problems that Democrats have faced is that Kavanaugh has shown no similar pattern of behavior. But if one or more new accusers emerged, that could create new suspicions that would at least delay his confirmation. The accusations would not need to be true; they would just need to cast the judge in a negative light. (Sunday night’s “dildo” story, apparently in the works from the New Yorker, is a perfect example.)
2. Instigate a local prosecution. If state or county prosectors were to announce that they were investigating Kavanaugh for attempted rape, which has no statue of limitations in Maryland, that could end his confirmation. If that sounds far-fetched, State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery) has already tried it, urging Gov. Larry Hogan to order an investigation by state police. He refused, but prosectors in the office of the Montgomery County state’s attorney — a Democrat — are noncommittal.
3. Block the hearing. Ford’s claims could look less credible by Thursday. Kavanaugh reportedly produced calendars from 1982 on Sunday showing he was out of town for much of the period in question. If so, Democrats might not want Ford to testify — but might want to delay a committee vote. They praised the protesters who interrupted Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing earlier this month; they could arrange massive protests during or before the hearing to disrupt it and delay the process.
4. Organize a Bar protest. The left-leaning American Bar Association (ABA) gave Kavanaugh a unanimous “well-qualified” rating before his confirmation hearings. But Democrats could organize left-leaning lawyers to pressure the ABA to revise that conclusion, or to issue a statement of protest. Alternatively, they could organize a “lawyers’ protest” of their own, stating that they will refuse to argue cases before the Supreme Court so long as Kavanaugh is seated without a full FBI investigation.
5. Character assassination. If Ford’s story falls apart, the campaign against Kavanaugh will go down as one of the worst smear campaigns in American history. But Democrats have time to make it even worse. They can ratchet up the pressure on the judge and his family to the point where he concludes it is simply not worth the effort. Already, the Washington Post is reporting that Kavanaugh refused to answer some personal questions in mock hearings — hinting, perhaps, at worse to come.
Maryland Police Say They’re Ready to Investigate Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Case if a Report is Filed
By Brian Krassenstein
September 22, 2018
As Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee continue to push back on the requests made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, for what her and her attorney consider to be a fair hearing, news broke late last night that Police in the city of Montgomery, Maryland are prepared to investigate the multi-decade-old incident.
Since the alleged sexual assault took place in Montgomery, Maryland, where there would be no statutes of limitation, the Montgomery police would have jurisdiction over the case. In a statement made yesterday in the midst of the back and forth between Ford’s attorney and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Montgomery City Police Chief Tom Manger issued the following statement:
“We are prepared to investigate if the victim wants to report to us, and we can determine it occurred in the County.”
Brian J. Karem✔ @BrianKarem
BREAKING: Montgomery MD PD Chief Tom Manger confirms will investigate sexual allegations against Brett Kavanaugh if a complaint is filed.
9:08 PM – Sep 21, 2018
All that it would take is the filling of a police report with the proper authorities and an investigation would commence. While Ford, nor her attorney, have indicated that a report would be filed in Montgomery, the likelihood of such seems quite high, especially given the fact that the President refuses to ask the FBI to investigate the matter further.
Meanwhile, the Republican Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, has ruled out that there would be any sort of State-level investigation into the matter after Democratic state Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Montgomery requested such.
Ford, who alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, never reported the incident at the time because of what she describes as embarrassment and fear of punishment by her parents.
Maryland Governor Rebuffs Call for Criminal Investigation into Brett Kavanaugh Attempted Rape Allegations
By Rachel M. Cohen, Ryan Grim
September 22 2018
ON FRIDAY MORNING, Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat, sent a letter to her state’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan calling on him to direct the Maryland State Police to launch an investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations.
Ford “deserves the basic fairness she has been denied, and you have the power to give it to her because the assault allegedly occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland.” Kagan wrote. “I know you understand the importance of an independent investigation because you signed HB1342, which requires an independent investigator to examine sexual harassment by members of the Maryland General Assembly.”
HB1342, which Hogan signed in May, is legislation designed to strengthen anti-harassment policies and prevent sexual harassment. It was pushed by the Women’s Caucus in the Maryland General Assembly.
Hogan rejected Kagan’s request at a news conference several hours later, according to the Baltimore Sun. “The Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this,” he said, without further explanation. Kagan tweeted that she was “disappointed” in Hogan and “hopes he’ll reconsider!” Two hours later, she tweeted again that she hopes the governor “changes his tune and decides to stand up for Maryland women who have been assaulted. #InvestigateKavanaugh”
The Maryland Democratic Party seized on the opportunity to blast the governor, sending out an email with the subject line: “BREAKING: After Months of Silence on Kavanaugh, Hogan Stands with Trump in Defense of SCOTUS Nominee.” The email included a quote from Democratic state party chair Kathleen Matthews, saying: “If Donald Trump doesn’t have the integrity to authorize an independent investigation by the FBI, then Larry Hogan has a duty to authorize an independent investigation by Maryland state police.”
Matthews’s party is aiming to unseat Hogan this November, but polls show Hogan with a strong lead against his Democratic opponent Ben Jealous.
Earlier on Friday, Trump also elevated the issue of local law enforcement, tweeting that if Kavanaugh’s attack on Ford “was as bad as she says,” then Ford or her parents would have immediately filed charges with the police. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” he wrote.
Kavanaugh’s mother was a Montgomery County prosecutor at the time of the alleged assault.
Ford has not filed any reports with the local police, according to the Montgomery County Police Department, and she told the Washington Post that she didn’t tell anyone at the time what happened to her, including her parents.
In Maryland, there is no statute of limitations for rape or attempted rape, and Ford has described her assault as “attempted rape.”
Two days earlier, a spokesperson for the state’s attorney, Ramon Korionoff, told The Intercept that his office was refraining from confirming or denying if it was investigating the Ford allegations. He added that “when there’s something that the police have brought to us, we’ll address it at that time.”
Ike Leggett, the executive of Montgomery County, told The Intercept on Friday morning that he has spoken to Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, and that the state’s attorney’s would “of course” look into the allegations if more details emerged, like the date, time, and address of the alleged incident. “Based on what’s been reported in the newspapers, unless there’s some actual complaint filed in more detail, it’s very difficult for them to proceed with just the information that’s available,” Leggett said, based on his conversation with McCarthy. “Secondly, there’s a statute of limitation challenge they need to work through depending on the complaint. They’re in a wait-and-see attitude.”
Kagan asks Hogan to investigate Kavanaugh allegation
By Neal Earley
September 22, 2018
State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17) has written a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) asking him to direct the Maryland State Police to investigate the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Kagan said in her letter to Hogan that the governor should ask the state police to investigate the allegation, after President Donald J. Trump said he will not ask the FBI to explore the claim.
Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford said that at a party 36 years ago, Kavanaugh forced himself on Ford and pinned her down on a bed against her will, rubbed himself on her and tried to pull her clothes off, before another boy jumped on both of them, allowing her to escape. At the time, Ford was a 15-year-old student at Holton-Arms, and Kavanaugh, was a 17-year student at Georgetown Prep.
“I’m hoping that Governor Hogan will stand up for Maryland women and understand the seriousness of an allegation like that,” Kagan said.
Since the allegation came to light and Ford made her claims public, the Senate Judiciary Committee has debated how to handle the claims. While both Republican and Democratic senators have said they want both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify before the committee, the details of the testimony are still being negotiated.
Ford, through her attorneys, has asked for an FBI investigation into her allegation, something that the President said he won’t do. He added in a tweet Thursday that she should have filed chargers when the incident happened 36 years ago.
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump said in a tweet. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
In response, Kagan said that the Maryland State Police needs to investigate the allegation, given that the FBI is not likely to.
“She deserves the basic fairness she has been denied, and you have the power to give it to her because the assault allegedly occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland,” Kagan wrote to Hogan.
Rick Goodale, a public information officer with the Montgomery County Police Department, said there is no investigation into the alleged sexual assault because a victim has not come forward to file a report yet.
Amelia Chassé, a spokesperson for Hogan, said the Governor has not seen the letter yet, as his office has no record of receiving it.
“The Maryland State Police is free to investigate any matter in accordance with established procedures,” Chassé said. “The governor has never used the state police to pursue investigations at his personal whim. That is a very dangerous and slippery slope.”
Kagan said an investigation by the state police would be preferable to a MCPD investigation. because the state police have more resources and jurisdiction.
“Frankly, the Governor has the opportunity to direct the state police to investigate the allegation,” Kagan said. “They have more resources, and frankly, possibly more credibility because they are statewide.”
Greg Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police’s Office of Media Communications, released the following statement: “It is the policy of the Maryland State Police to initiate a criminal investigation when a criminal complaint is filed. There has been no complaint filed with the Maryland State Police regarding this issue. In addition, the Maryland State Police has a memorandum of understanding with Montgomery County that requires any Part 1 crime to be investigated by the Montgomery County Police. As such it would be the responsibility of the Montgomery County Police to investigate an alleged sexual assault.”
Senator Wants State Police to Investigate Kavanaugh Assault Charge
By Danielle Gaines
September 21, 2018
A Montgomery County senator wants the Maryland State Police to investigate allegations made by California professor Christine Blasey Ford that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when the two were students at private high schools in Montgomery County.
Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) will send a letter to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Friday, asking him to initiate an investigation through the Maryland State Police.
“We are blocked from having a thorough investigation on this because [President Donald J. Trump] will not call on the FBI to investigate a very credible complaint,” Kagan said in an interview with Maryland Matters. “…I am hoping that the governor will stand up for Maryland women.”
Hogan was asked about the issue during a news conference on an unrelated matter Friday morning.
“No. I’ve never heard anything about that,” Hogan said. “…But no, the Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this.”
Kagan said after the governor’s comments that she would still send him a letter seeking the investigation.
The alleged assault occurred in the early 1980s when Ford was a 15-year-old student at Holton-Arms School and Kavanaugh was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Preparatory School.
The Montgomery County Police told the news website Bethesda Beat earlier this week that they would investigate the allegations only if a criminal complaint is reported to them, which had not been done.
Ford first revealed the assault in a confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) after Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. He has denied the claims, which are likely to be the topic of a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee next week.
Through an attorney, Ford originally said she would testify only if an investigation were undertaken by the FBI. Now, her attorney is negotiating the terms of her testimony.
Kagan said she has been closely watching news about the allegations, including that Ford has been harassed and threatened since coming forward.
“I am mortified by the personal attacks against a professor with unquestionable credentials. Many of us have stories from our teen or college years that we haven’t shared publicly. That does not in any way undermine or negate the impact that they have had on our lives,” Kagan said in the phone interview. “A woman may not remember what she was wearing or the precise date and time of an assault. But I assure you the key details of the event are burned into her memory for all time.”
After Months of Silence on Kavanaugh, Hogan Stands with Trump in Defense of SCOTUS Nominee
Maryland Democratic Party
September 21 2018
State Sen. Kagan Sent Letter to Hogan Today Urging Governor to Investigate Sexual Assault Allegations Against Kavanaugh. Does Hogan Not Believe Dr. Blasey Ford? Why Else Would He Block An Investigation to Find Out the Truth?
Annapolis, MD—After months of silence on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court, Governor Larry Hogan is refusing a request from State Sen. Cheryl Kagan to investigate allegations of sexual assault raised against Kavanaugh. On Sunday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford reported that while they were both high school students in Bethesda in 1982, Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.
This morning, Sen. Cheryl Kagan sent letter to Hogan urging him to direct the Maryland State Police to investigate Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. Kagan wrote, “…you must step up where members of your party on Capitol Hill fell down and direct the Maryland State Police to initiate an investigation int Professor Ford’s allegations. She deserves the basic fairness she has been denied, and you have the power to give it to her because the assault allegedly occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland.”
When asked about the letter at a press conference today, Hogan said, “The Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this.”
“If Donald Trump doesn’t have the integrity to authorize an independent investigation by the FBI, then Larry Hogan has a duty to authorize an independent investigation by Maryland state police,” said Maryland Democratic Party chair Kathleen Matthews. “The American people should not have Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination for a lifetime seat rushed through without a full investigation into Dr. Blasey Ford’s credible allegations.”
This week, Donald Trump announced that he will break past precedent by refusing to direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the allegations against Kavanugh. Trump has also repeatedly dismissed the allegations, defended Kavanaugh and this morning attacked Dr. Blasey Ford, saying, “If the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.
Politics Roundup: Kagan Asks for State Police Investigation of Kavanaugh
By Dan Schere
September 21, 2018
Kagan calls on Hogan to demand police investigation into Kavanaugh allegations
State Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents Rockville, sent a letter Friday to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), asking the Maryland State Police to investigate allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party in the 1980s.
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly groping her, pinning her to a bed and trying to take off her clothes while they were at a high school party at a Montgomery County house, according to The Washington Post. Kavanaugh, then 17, attended the all-boys Georgetown Preparatory School, while 15-year-old Ford attended Holton-Arms School, both in Bethesda. Kavanaugh’s classmate Mark Judge, she alleges, was an accomplice.
Ford has said she is open to testifying next week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Democrats have asked for an FBI investigation in into the allegations against Kavanaugh, although Republicans and President Trump have been resistant.
In an interview Friday, Kagan said she called for the state police investigation because any findings would help guide the discussion among senators who are voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“It has been distressing to watch the Republicans in the U.S. Senate to try to jam this nomination through an incomplete confirmation process. Because this is a lifetime appointment with only nine members on the Supreme Court, I would hope that Governor Hogan would want the U.S. Senate to have as much information as possible about Kavanaugh’s character,” she said.
Maryland law states that there is no statute of limitations on felonies, including sexual assault. Montgomery County Police spokesman Officer Rick Goodale said earlier this week that there were no plans for an investigation since nothing had been reported to his police force.
According to Maryland Matters, which originally reported the letter, Hogan said at a press conference Friday that the “Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this,” but didn’t elaborate further.
Kagan tweeted in response that she hoped Hogan would “change his tune and decide to stand up for Maryland women who have been assaulted.”
Kagan herself has spoken about being sexually harassed multiple times in Annapolis, including earlier this year by former Del. Gil Genn, who is now a lobbyist. She said she immediately believed Ford when her allegations became public earlier this month.
“She has absolutely no incentive to fabricate a tragic story like this,” Kagan said. “Too many women have terrible secrets similar to hers that they have never shared. I applaud her courage for speaking out and for sacrificing her own safety and privacy to do so.”
MoCo Democratic Party takes neutral position on county ballot initiatives
The precinct leaders of the Montgomery County Democratic Party voted Thursday night to adopt a neutral position on the three ballot questions county residents will vote on in November.
Question A asks whether the selection process for the county’s redistricting committee should be altered. Every 10 years, a redistricting commission redraws the lines for the five district seats on the council by picking four members from the county Democratic and Republican central committees, plus one additional member.
The new plan outlined on the ballot would expand the commission from nine to 11 members. At least one, but no more than four, would have to be from each party that received more than 15 percent of the vote in the last county council general election. In addition, the commission would need to include at least one member from each of the five council districts.
Democrats have long been accused of gerrymandering state and federal districts in Maryland, and that was a topic that precinct members discussed at Thursday’s meeting. One member said deciding which position to take on the initiative was like a “game of dragons,” in that voting for the redistricting proposal could lead to losing Democratic seats on the council but voting against the proposal would reignite beliefs that the party is intent on maintaining a patronage system. Members on both sides weighed in.
“This mythical person who really wants to be on a redistricting body, they have an agenda,” said one member.
Another attendee responded that many unaffiliated voters are still interested in the political process, including college students.
Afterward, Scott Goldberg, the chair of the county’s Democratic Central Committee, said the number of differing views of the ballot question shows how it is a “big tent party.” He said the liberal county council chose to put the initiative on the ballot in order to make the redistricting process more democratic.
“There are a lot of Democratic activists, that even in Maryland would still unilaterally want to have a more nonpartisan redistricting process,” he said. “To my knowledge I haven’t seen any county council members out there advocating for or against, even at this meeting. They decided to leave it in the hands of the voters.”
The party also voted to remain neutral on Question B, which would require an affirmative vote by the entire county council on raising property taxes, and Question C, which would allow each council member to have at least one aide as a non-merit employee.
Commission to Advance #NG911 Holds First Meeting
The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative that will help Maryland prepare for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 system that our residents expect and deserve, held its first meeting today in Annapolis.
Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.
The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of NG9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the existing efforts of the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB), with a particular emphasis on addressing areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.
The Commission wasted no time getting to work. Senator Cheryl Kagan, Senate sponsor of the MACo legislation to establish the Commission, was elected Chair. Steve Souder, former Director of the Department of Public Safety Communications in Fairfax, Virginia, was elected Vice Chair.
In order to meet the initial reporting deadline of December 1, 2018, the Commission established four subcommittees – Funding, Staffing, Technology & Cybersecurity, & Oversight and Accountability. Each subcommittee will work to draft preliminary recommendations. Once the subcommittees have completed their work, they will present their recommendations to the full Commission.
Because county governments are at the heart of 9-1-1 service delivery, MACo prepared and submitted to the Commission a Next Generation 9-1-1 White Paper. MACo hopes to continue to serve as a resource for additional information from county governments throughout the Commission’s deliberations.
MACo’s Legislative Committee voted at their September 12, 2018 meeting to adopt the Association’s four priorities for the 2019 Session. Updating state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system, to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the transition to NG9-1-1, will again be a top priority for county governments.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.
New 911 commission holds first meetings
By: Kylie Khan
Posted: September 20, 2018
Senator Cheryl Kagan was elected chair
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Cities and counties across the United States are moving to a new 911 system to keep up with changes in technology.
In Maryland, Thursday marked the first meeting of the newly formed 911 commission. The commission’s goal is to help roll out the Next Generation 911 system which will allow residents to send texts, videos, and photos to operators. Frederick County is the only county in the state that has implemented texting 911. Montgomery County is in the initial stages of putting NextGen in place.
“Maryland is way out of step with other area states and look at and figure out how to raise the money so that we can make sure to save lives,” said State Senator Cheryl Kagan, (D) Montgomery County.
The commission is tasked with having a report ready by December.