Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous releases plans to address gender wage gap, ethics reform

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous this week released two plans aimed at addressing the gender wage gap in Maryland and tightening ethics regulations.

In South Baltimore on Tuesday morning, Jealous pledged to hire new Maryland government inspectors to investigate wage discrimination at businesses in the state.

Jealous, who has pledged that a majority of his cabinet members will be women, said the inspectors would request pay information from companies and conduct reviews to prevent systemic pay discrimination.

“We’re going to get proactive about ending the gender pay gap,” Jealous said in Federal Hill. “Women are paid on average $10,000 less than men in our state. That is enough to fund child care for a year.”

In response, Scott Sloofman, campaign spokesman for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, touted the governor’s signature of equal pay legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

“Governor Hogan was proud to sign into law equal pay legislation that was called “one of the nation’s strongest equal pay laws,” Sloofman said. “Under this governor, Maryland has been called ‘a leader in the nationwide movement for equal pay’ by the National Women’s Law Center and that will continue during his second term.”

On Wednesday, Jealous also said he was releasing a plan focused on ethics reform that he said would prevent “conflicts of interest and end pay-to-play politics in Annapolis.”

Jealous, who has divested from his investments at his venture capitalist firm Kapor Capital, said he will work to pass legislation to require future governors with business interests to enter into a blind trust — something he has criticized Hogan for not doing with his real estate holdings.

Hogan has entered into a trust managed by three of his former top aides that is not blind. Hogan’s trust agreement was designed and approved by the State Ethics Commission.

Jealous also said he will pursue legislation to require future statewide and presidential candidates to release their tax returns; pledged to refuse all meetings with lobbyists convicted of fraud or corruption crimes; and promised to dismiss cabinet secretaries who run for elected office while criticizing Hogan’s insurance commissioner, Al Redmer, who is running for Baltimore County executive.

Democrats have accused Redmer of accepting campaign donations from insurance-related sources.

Redmer has pledged not to accept donations from the industry that he regulates. He argues that Democrats are counting donations from individuals not directly regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration.

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