- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland administrative law judge ruled this week that Gov. Martin O'Malley’s administration illegally fired a Republican state worker and ordered the worker to be reinstated with full back pay.

Judge Susan A. Sinrod ruled that Greg Maddalone was fired illegally by the O’Malley administration because of his political ties to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

Democratic lawmakers in 2005 accused the Ehrlich administration of illegally firing thousands of state workers because of their ties to previous Democratic governors.

After the Democrat-controlled General Assembly spent 13 months and $1.1 million of public funds to investigate the charges, Mr. Ehrlich was found to not have fired anyone illegally.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George’s County Democrat, were unavailable for comment about the Maddalone ruling yesterday.

Mr. Busch and Mr. Miller, who spearheaded the investigation of the Ehrlich administration’s firings, have not said whether they will consider a similar probe of the O’Malley administration.

Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, defeated Mr. Ehrlich in his bid for re-election in November.

A copy of Judge Sinrod’s decision was not made available yesterday because the case was handled as a confidential personnel matter. A source with access to the judge’s decision confirmed its contents to The Washington Times yesterday.

In the ruling, Judge Sinrod rebuked state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari for violating Mr. Maddalone’s First and 14th Amendment rights, according to the source.

Mr. Maddalone worked as a legislative liaison at the Maryland Port Administration and then in the transportation secretary’s office before being fired this year.

Mr. Maddalone did not return calls seeking comment. His attorney, Debra C. Cruz, said she could not comment on the case because of its confidentiality.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) said Mr. Maddalone’s firing was “absolutely not” political.

“[Mr.] Porcari stands solidly by his decisions allowed by the law, MDOT spokesman John P. Cahalan said.

Mr. Cahalan said the agency’s legal counsel is reviewing the decision and considering options.

A spokesman for Mr. O'Malley echoed Mr. Cahalan’s remarks.

“The governor supports the agency’s decision,” said Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Mr. O'Malley.

Mr. Maddalone, a former figure skater, was the focus of the General Assembly’s year-long probe into Mr. Ehrlich’s firings.

During the probe, Democratic lawmakers criticized Mr. Maddalone or his lack of legislative and transportation experience and for his supposed role in identifying Democrats to be fired by the Ehrlich administration.

Mr. Busch and Mr. Miller created the Special Committee on State Employee Rights and Protections in June 2005 to examine Mr. Ehrlich’s firings.

The investigation examined the firings of more than 7,000 at-will state employees, who serve at the pleasure of the governor and can be fired without cause.