- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

ANNAPOLIS — Instructions from Maryland’s Senate president appear to contradict House documents made public as part of a court challenge seeking to overturn tax increases approved during the recent General Assembly special session.

The documents, obtained by The Washington Times, cast new importance on the deposition of the chief clerk of the House of Delegates, Mary Monahan, and could bolster claims that the House Journal may have been doctored to avoid running afoul of the state constitution.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s highest court yesterday denied a third attempt by the state to prevent Mrs. Monahan from testifying. Her deposition is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow morning in Annapolis.

Five Republicans and a Carroll County businessman filed the lawsuit seeking to invalidate the special session last month and have dueled with the state through the holidays to obtain Mrs. Monahan’s testimony.

The lawsuit hinges on whether the Senate obtained consent from the House to adjourn for more than three days. It is based on a provision in the state constitution that says neither the Senate nor the House may adjourn for more than three days without the other chamber’s consent.

On Nov. 9, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. told senators they would return to work on Nov. 13, according to an audio recording of the Senate proceedings obtained by The Times.

But the official House Journal filed with the court includes a message from the Senate dated Nov. 9 that says it intended to adjourn until Nov. 15.

Irwin Kramer, the lawyer representing the Republicans, said he thinks the Nov. 9 message in the House Journal is a “fabrication” created after the fact. He said he thinks Mrs. Monahan can confirm his claim, and he wants to depose her because of her “reputation as a straight shooter.”

Mr. Miller, Southern Maryland Democrat, also sent a memo to senators on Nov. 12 alerting them that the Senate would not reconvene until Nov. 15.

It is not clear why Mr. Miller had to clarify for senators that they would not be coming back to work on Nov. 13 if the Senate told the House it would reconvene on Nov. 15, as is recorded in the House Journal.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, said yesterday he would not comment on the lawsuit or the discrepancies between the House and Senate documents.

“The record is clear that the Senate asked for consent, received consent and returned to finish the work of passing legislation in full compliance with the Maryland Constitution,” said Lisa Fulton, a spokeswoman for Mr. Miller.

Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Busch obtained legal advice from the Attorney General’s Office after the Senate adjourned on Nov. 9. Mr. Kramer said he thinks the two Democratic leaders sought the advice because they knew they were facing a constitutional problem.

“Unless the Senate president instantly forgot his own actions in rescheduling the adjournment, it is difficult to understand why the presiding officer of the Maryland Senate did not come forward to set the record straight,” Mr. Kramer wrote in court documents.

“To the extent that his House counterpart was aware of the problem, it is similarly troubling that the speaker did not speak up,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Edward J. Kasemeyer, Howard Democrat, can also be heard on the audio recording of the Nov. 9 proceedings motioning for the Senate to adjourn until Nov. 13.

But he is listed in the House Journal noting on Nov. 9 that the Senate would come back on Nov. 15.

“It will be difficult for anyone aware of these facts to come to any other conclusion than the document is a total fabrication,” Mr. Kramer said yesterday. “There is just no other conclusion.”

Mrs. Monahan, the chief record-keeper of the House Journal, was ordered by a Carroll County judge to give her deposition before a hearing scheduled for Friday.

Mr. Kramer was scheduled to take Mrs. Monahan’s testimony yesterday in Easton, Md. Mrs. Monahan’s private counsel, David Thompson, said he would not allow her to be deposed until Mr. Kramer and the state’s team of attorneys stop what he called their “exercise in attorney one-upmanship.”

Her deposition has been canceled or delayed at least three times since she was first ordered to testify two weeks ago. Mrs. Monahan left town a week before Christmas — two private investigators and an FBI agent were unable to locate her for at least three days — and finding and scheduling her deposition has become a serpentine process of legal motions tangled with the holidays and the weekends.

The latest question may be who represents Mrs. Monahan. Mr. Thompson says he represents her.

Still, a seven-member team of lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office has worked throughout the holidays to block Mrs. Monahan’s testimony, taking their case to the state’s highest court yesterday.

The state lost a motion in the Court of Special Appeals on Friday and lost a previous motion to block Mrs. Monahan’s testimony in the Carroll County court.

MIXED MESSAGES

A Nov. 12 memo from Maryland’s Senate president appears to contradict an entry in the House journal recorded three days earlier.

Source: Maryland Senate, court records

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide