Anne Arundel County's Circuit Court judges this week began the process of selecting a new state's attorney to replace Frank R. Weathersbee, who is retiring to accept a gubernatorial appointment to the state Parole Commission.
But as the application process opened, Anne Arundel Republicans leveled criticism at Weathersbee, alleging that he's "interfering" in the judges' choice by supporting one of his deputies to take over.
"The State's Attorney's efforts to skirt not only the democratic process, but also a fair appointment process, are nothing but 'inside baseball' politics at their worst," said Alan Rzepkowski, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee of Anne Arundel County, in email remarks. "If he is unable to fulfill his commitment to the voters who elected him, he should at least serve them one last time by not interfering in an otherwise impartial process to select the best possible replacement."
Weathersbee, who is leaving next month, said last week he would like to see his deputy and former unofficial campaign manager, Thomas Fleckenstein, appointed to complete his term, which expires in 2014. The judges are not bound by Weathersbee's recommendation, and have issued a call for applicants.
Weathersbee called Rzepkowski's statement "shameful" and said it was "ludicrous" to suggest that he could tell the county's judges what to do in terms of the selection.
"Politics or party have never factored into any decision I have ever made as State's Attorney. I have never asked a job applicant or anyone I've promoted to leadership positions within the office what his or her political party is. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Republican Party took one last shot at me on my way out the door. They have been coming after me unsuccessfully for 25 years using the same misleading rhetoric year after year," Weathersbee said in a written response.
Applicants to fill the state's attorney position must be Maryland lawyers and county residents for at least two years. Weathersbee is a Democrat, but his successor need not be one.
Applicants must submit a resume and the personal, confidential information form that includes questions on legal career, business relationships and background that is on the court's website, circuitcourt.org. The deadline is May 31.
Weathersbee has been the state's attorney since 1988.
Administrative Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis said she hopes the judges will have a successor chosen by June 11, when Weathersbee is due to leave office.