Natural Resources Police spokeswoman wins case, earns last 4 days on the job

Selene San Felice
Contact Reporterssanfelice@capgaznews.com

It took a court order for Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson to complete her last four days of work.

After suing the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Thomson won reinstatement as NRP spokeswoman for four days before retiring this month.

Judge Ellen Hollander ruled Nov. 2 for Thomson’s position to be restored after a two-day hearing at the District Court of Maryland in Baltimore.

“I could have done my last days in a diminished role but I just couldn’t let it go,” Thomson said. “It was a great job and I found it something worth fighting for. I didn’t know what the outcome would be but I'm grateful it came out the way it did.”

Thomson’s complaint filed last month claimed DNR Secretary Mark Belton violated her First Amendment rights when he demoted her after she called Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous an “a**clown” on her personal Facebook page.

The agency’s spokesman, Stephen Schatz, denied Thomson was demoted when the complaint was filed. He did not immediately respond for comment Tuesday.

Thomson said she knew when her hearing date was set that if she won, she would have less than a week in her original position. Her court expenses are yet to be determined, she said. She did not lose income but she was stripped of her duties and state assigned vehicle while the case was pending.

“After being humiliated by DNR officials, I wanted to go out with my head held high and my 45-year reputation intact,” she said.

Thomson said she worked four days before her retirement, with her last day being Nov. 6. Thomson worked for 40 years as a journalist, including 25 years with The Baltimore Sun, before becoming the NRP public information officer in 2013. She called her last four days as spokeswoman “great.”

“I had been banned from talking to and interacting with the media. Quite frankly, that was the best part of my job, talking to reporters and helping them get what they needed on deadline,” she said.

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