Other Voices: AG Frosh should recuse himself from redistricting case
“Power tends to corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." That quote from Lord Acton applies well to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who acts in hyper-partisan fashion, using his office to send out almost daily anti-Trump screeds and file baseless lawsuits.
Frosh knows a Democrat supermajority in Annapolis will do little to nothing to hold him accountable — in fact they empower him in his quest to take down Republican officeholders. Prior to Frosh, the Attorney General's office was not a primarily partisan one, in fact it is supposed to be removed from politics and come down on the side of defending the law.
Now Frosh has weaponized the law to defend Maryland's gerrymandered congressional districts, despite the fact as a State Senator and part of Democrat leadership, he aided in enacting redistricting legislation and therefore has a total conflict of interest in defending them now as Attorney General. His conflict has shown in the falsehoods he has told the court. Rather than defending the case, he himself should be under oath, testifying with the rest of the Democratic leadership.
In 2012, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democrats in the legislature redrew congressional maps with the goal of unseating long-time Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett. This was a heavy lift when it comes to gerrymandering because under Gov. Parris Glendenning, Democrats had already redrawn the maps to reduce the number of Republican members of Congress from four to two. As a result, Congressman Bartlett's Western Maryland District was split into two districts with Montgomery County representing the majority of populations in both. The result: Bartlett lost and Montgomery County Democrats won.
Citizens in Western Maryland sued the State of Maryland and a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal court had to review Maryland's "crazy quilt" of a redistricting map.
Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion in court containing a falsehood that would make even the most die-hard partisan blush stating, "Plaintiffs have produced no evidence that any decision maker specifically intended to burden the representational rights of certain citizens. The only evidence produced proves merely that the map drawers intended to create a more competitive district, one that slightly advantaged Democrats…"
Frosh's statement flies into the face of what any honest observer can see, we have crazy looking congressional maps to produce the maximum number of Democrat congressmen. And of course Republicans were targeted. Frosh's statement also flies into the face of what we have learned from court documents where Gov. O'Malley admitted, under oath, he targeted Congressman Bartlett and drew a district to elect a Democrat. We also learned that Maryland legislative leaders, Frosh included at the time, relied on a high-tech Democrat consultant firm in D.C., NCEC services, to actually draw the maps. This was not a simple effort to create a more competitive district — no this was a complex and sophisticated scheme to disenfranchise Republican voters in Maryland.
In 2012, when all this was happening, Brian Frosh was a Democrat State Senator and Chairman of one of the chamber's four committees. This puts Frosh right smack in the middle of the effort to develop and pass the gerrymandered maps in 2012. Now in 2017, as Attorney General he falsely argues that General Assembly Democrats didn't target Republicans. Unlike the rest of the Democratic leadership, he is free to push false narratives because he is not under oath and operating as the State's attorney.
Despite Frosh and Democrats best efforts the redistricting case will commence on July 14. Frosh must recognize as Attorney General he represents all Marylanders — be they Democrats, Independents or Republicans. As the attorney for all citizens and, given his involvement in enacting the redistricting map as a Senator, he is doing a great disservice to them if he does not recuse himself immediately from this case. His presence is an affront to fair-minded Marylanders who respect the rule of law.
Sen. Michael Hough is a Republican representing Carroll and Frederick counties in District 4. Sen. Justin Ready and Del. Haven Shoemaker are Republicans representing Carroll in District 5.