- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has asked Prince George’s County Democrats to withdraw their choice of a controversial candidate to fill a seat in the House of Delegates.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, sent a letter on Friday to county party officials asking them to rescind their selection of Greg Hall while the state attorney general’s office reviews whether the seat — which was held by former Delegate Tiffany Alston — is actually vacant.

Ms. Alston was removed from office last month after she pleaded guilty to misconduct charges, but her conviction was reduced to probation last week after she completed community service required in her sentence.

Her attorneys argue that the reduction should allow her to return to office. They have requested that the attorney general’s office look into the matter and issue a final opinion.

Mr. O’Malley granted the request in his letter Friday and asked the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee to withdraw its choice and take no further action until an opinion is issued.

“I have agreed to request a formal opinion because of the importance of the issue and the likelihood of litigation in this matter,” the governor said in the letter.

Committee chairman Terry Speigner did not return several calls seeking comment, but he told The Washington Post on Saturday that the committee will comply and withdraw the selection when it meets Tuesday.

The committee chose Mr. Hall over Mr. Speigner as Ms. Alston’s replacement in a narrow 12-10 vote, but some members have been rethinking the decision due to issues in Mr. Hall’s past.

Mr. Hall, 42, has admitted that he sold drugs in the early 1990s and in 1992 he participated in a shootout that killed a 13-year-old boy who was caught in the crossfire.

Mr. Hall and the other gunman, Darius Wiggs, were each initially charged with first-degree murder. The charge against Mr. Hall was dropped after investigators determined that Wiggs fired the first shot and fired the bullet that killed the child.

Mr. Hall spent 40 days in jail before the charge was dropped, and he was eventually convicted of misdemeanor handgun possession for his part in the incident.

Committee members and friends of Mr. Hall — who is now a married business owner with four children and ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2010 — say he has been upfront about his past and that his story is one of personal redemption.

“He talked about being young and making the wrong decisions,” said committee member Shaihi Mwalimu, who voted for Mr. Hall. “He won based on open selection, and I felt he was the best candidate based on his community involvement.”

Members said they were aware of Mr. Hall’s issues before the vote, but the committee announced last week that it will conduct more thorough background checks in the future.

Mr. O’Malley initially had until Thanksgiving to appoint Mr. Hall. According to the governor’s office, the state constitution would have given him no say in the matter and required that he carry out the committee’s choice.

The governor did not mention Mr. Hall’s past in his letter. A spokeswoman for the governor declined to comment on the issue on Friday, but said Mr. O’Malley is aware of it.

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