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As Long as We Remember...

December 29, 2009

A Man of Integrity – or Not…

Farrell Keough

While this should be a time of writing about family traditions or various ideas for the New Year, another pressing issue has arisen that requires our immediate attention. Del. Rick Weldon, (3B) has announced he will not complete his term, hence a replacement must be chosen by the Frederick and Washington County Republican Central Committees.


First, I am in complete support of the Nomination Committee: Chairman Billy Shreve and Dick Cheney, both of Frederick County; and Penny Pittman, of Washington County; Frederick County State's Attorney Charlie Smith; and Sandy Dalton, clerk of the Frederick County Circuit Court.


Secondly, I want to clear up a possible conflict of interest.  In correspondence with State’s Attorney Smith, he stated that Michael Hough, Charles A. Jenkins, and John Lovell “are good people with solid Republican values.” He has supported each in previous and current elections. While Mr. Hough has him as a supporter for his campaign, I believe Mr. Smith can rise above any previous statements of support and promote the best person for the job.


Now to the point. I wrote about one of the candidates for the 3B Delegate position in April. A quick recap – Mr. Hough included on his official correspondence for support that five members of the local central committee supported his candidacy. A central committee exists to support all party members, not just chosen members.


When this situation was pointed out to Mr. Hough, he could have taken the high road, admitted to the problem and immediately fixed it! Instead, he took the route of using Roberts Rules to push this issue under the carpet – a rules decision that was immediately deemed admissible by the legal counsel to the Republican Central Committee.


It is one thing to use rules to slow or invalidate legislation in an effort to protect one’s constituency from bad law. But, this took place within the Republican Central Committee – a body created to ensure promotion of all Republicans and help assure voters that back room deals are not going on. Yet, that is precisely what happened! This speaks directly to the integrity of this man. If you cannot trust his integrity on the small things, do you really believe you can trust him on the major things coming from the State?*


To date we have little to measure Mr. Hough. Although a resident of Brunswick, he has not been a participant in any local groups of consequence. He has been painfully quiet on important issues like the water controversy with Rosemont, the massive new developments being built, and has only recently begun to attend various dinners for organizations. He is an Air Force veteran and that is very laudable. But, when it comes to true local involvement, his biography is virtually non-existent.


So, how is Mr. Hough able to generate such support? Could it be money? Or maybe it is Mooney – as in State Sen. Alex Mooney. The two seem to be inseparable.


In January of this year an article was published about the money coming into the Hough coffers. The funding to this campaign has increased dramatically. But, one should note, very little of that money actually comes from his own constituency and that is very important to note! While money has become even more important in the political process, one has only to look at Sheriff Chuck Jenkins to realize it is not the end all. During his campaign in 2006, Sheriff Jenkins was well behind his opponent in fund raising. Thank God that money did not drive that race!


But, one must question how money affects support. With this level of funds in the coffer, might a number of politicians be weighing in their support for Mr. Hough due to these ever growing coffers?


Another aspect which is of great concern with Mr. Hough is his immaturity. From numerous emails and telephone conversations with people familiar with Mr. Hough, he is consistently described as someone who does not possess either the maturity nor the integrity to represent us in Annapolis.


Mr. Hough has gone after Commissioner Charles Jenkins voraciously in his press releases. Yet, when Mr. Hough spoke to the Board of County Commissioners on the Waste-To-Energy proposal, he had no idea of the actual circumstances, nor any alternative to his position of “No.” That does not bode well for a mature, well informed, or visionary leader – it just speaks to a sorry attempt at getting headlines.


And what about this “No” moniker? Senator Mooney is very pleased with his standing as a consistent voter of “No” for any new taxes. Mr. Hough will follow in his footsteps.


While this seems laudable, the actual outcome speaks volumes. If one votes “No” for any taxes at the state level, but(!) does not propose an alternative, all that is achieved is either a vote with little weight, or worse, said tax being passed down to the counties. In short, our state representative may have voted “No,” but we are still left with the cost. Unless our representative can offer a viable alternative, these votes only achieve getting them a plaque – for in the end, they still harm the constituency.


Another important aspect in representing District 3B is the issue of illegal immigrants. Discussions with both Sheriff Jenkins and Commissioner Jenkins yielded that both believe neither Mr. Mooney, nor Mr. Hough, will be supportive of the efforts being promoted in this county to deal with this serious issue. Could money coming into the coffers be yet another effect which drives this position?


So, whom to choose?


Well, the nomination committee could pick someone who is not actively seeking this position. But then, of course, there is no guarantee they will not change their mind and run. It should also be noted that with the huge deficit we are facing, there is little an appointed delegate could do, so a “place filler” may not make any difference.


On the other side, we have one person who has requested consideration that actually has dealt with our local budget shortfalls. Commissioner Jenkins has the local knowledge as well as the understanding of how state legislation affects all Marylanders. He has not shied away from confronting the difficult issues and answering his constituency. While I have not always supported all of his decisions, he has supported most of the propositions which represent the 3B area. And, for those few issues in which we were in disagreement, Commissioner Jenkins has had the strength of character to discuss why his vote went the way it did – that is what I want from my representative.


Finally, it should be reiterated, if you can’t trust Mr. Hough with the small things, how can you trust him with the big things?


[Footnote:* You will note in my April column, I was not alone in this assessment… An interesting side note – Mr. Hough later tried to sully Sheriff Jenkins reputation by comparing his (Jenkins) actions while chairman of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee – the two situations were not in the least comparable. Sheriff Jenkins has proven himself a man of great integrity – the same cannot be said of Mr. Hough.]

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