Baltimore County executive candidate Redmer misses significant time at state insurance commission during campaign

Baltimore County executive candidate Al Redmer Jr. has taken significant time off from his day job as the state’s insurance commissioner during the campaign, according to documents.

The Maryland Insurance Administration released hundreds of pages of Redmer’s schedules, time cards and time-off balances to The Baltimore Sun in response to a request under the Maryland Public Information Act.

The documents indicate that in some cases, Redmer, a Republican, has spent more than half of his workweeks on annual leave, away from his state job.

After defeating Del. Pat McDonough in the Republican primary in June, Redmer is facing Democrat Johnny Olszewski Jr. in the Nov. 6 general election.

Between early May and late September, Redmer was paid for 360 hours of annual leave — the equivalent of 45 days off from work. He took no annual leave from January through April.

For five of the 11 two-week pay periods between May and September, Redmer was paid more than 40 hours’ worth of annual leave — which amounts to more than half of the work hours in the pay period.

Redmer’s annual salary as insurance commissioner in 2017 was $160,000, according to data from the state provided to The Sun.

Democratic Party officials have questioned whether Redmer is campaigning on state time or neglecting his duties as insurance commissioner. And during the Republican primary, McDonough filed an ethics complaint alleging Redmer was campaigning on the clock and sought “votes or financial support” from companies that have business with the state.

Redmer has said he takes annual leave to campaign, but he has declined to voluntarily provide documents related to his time off. He’s turned over documents to ethics officials who are investigating McDonough’s complaint.

Redmer campaign spokeswoman Hannah Marr said Redmer has managed both his role as insurance commissioner and his candidacy “exceptionally well.”

Marr said the fact that Democrats are making “baseless and distasteful attacks” against Redmer is proof that the race is competitive.

Tracy Imm, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Insurance Administration, said in a statement that Redmer takes his job “incredibly seriously.”

“He makes himself available 24/7, often working nights and weekends to handle emergency situations like the flooding in Ellicott City and Catonsville this spring,” Imm wrote in the statement.

She said Redmer has participated in more than 200 meetings and conference calls since May and worked on the state’s plan to temporarily keep premiums from rising for people who buy their own health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“Simply put, the results speak for themselves,” Imm said in the statement.

A spokesman for Olszewski, Sean Naron, said in a statement: “Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for political ambitions. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Redmer would take advantage of taxpayers for his own personal gain. This clearly violates the spirit of public service.”

Olszewski issued a statement that didn’t address Redmer’s time off, but said that he would be a full-time executive “who leads by example to be accountable, connected, accessible and transparent.” Olszewski works for a software company.

The Baltimore County Charter, a legal document that spells out how the county government must be run, requires the county executive to “devote his full time to the duties of the office.”

As insurance commissioner, Redmer leads the Maryland Insurance Administration, which regulates the insurance industry in the state. The insurance administration licenses insurance providers, investigates complaints about insurance companies and assists consumers with insurance-related issues.

On the campaign trail, Redmer often talks about how he would bring his management style from the insurance administration to county government if elected.

He also touts successes at the insurance administration, such as reducing a backlog of proposed insurance products that needed to be reviewed before insurance carriers could sell them.

Early voting begins Thursday and runs through Nov. 1.

The winner in Baltimore County will succeed County Executive Don Mohler, a Democrat who was appointed to finish the final term of former County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died of cardiac arrest in May.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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