Thirty-five state lawmakers on Thursday issued a statement condemning Del. Jon S. Cardin for missing nearly 75 percent of his committee votes this year.
"As members of the Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate, we must comment on the recent articles about Jon Cardin's missed votes," states a letter signed by lawmakers who support Cardin's opponent in a race for attorney general, Sen. Brian Frosh. "We have been trying to wrap our heads around his unacceptable attendance record and want to say clearly and unequivocally: under no circumstances should a member of the legislature selectively decide to skip 75% of his or her committee votes."
Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat who is seeking to become attorney general, has expressed remorse for the missed votes but said they generally weren't close, and he needed to spend time with his pregnant wife and young daughter.
He released a statement in response that dismissed the criticism as a political attack: "This is all political theater. It’s my opponent's supporters desperately scrambling to help their candidate who lags in the polls. I was in Annapolis every day during the 90-day session, working hard on the issues important to Maryland families, and I have an over 90% voting attendance record in committee and on the House Floor over my twelve year career."
Thursday's letter is signed by Baltimore City Senators Joan Carter Conway, Bill Ferguson, Lisa Gladden, Nathaniel McFadden, Senator Catherine Pugh and Verna Jones Rodwell, among others.
The Baltimore Sun reported this month that Cardin missed about 120 committee votes this General Assembly session.
His opponents in the Democratic primary, Frosh, of Montgomery County, and Prince George's County Del. Aisha Braveboy, missed no or few committee votes this session.
The full text of the letter and its authors is below:
Letter from Concerned Maryland Legislators
33 Wood Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20850
May 22, 2014
As members of the Maryland House of Delegates and State Senate, we must comment on the recent articles about Jon Cardin's missed votes.
We have been trying to wrap our heads around his unacceptable attendance record and want to say clearly and unequivocally: under no circumstances should a member of the legislature selectively decide to skip 75% of his or her committee votes.
The significant work of the legislature is done in committee. Hearings on bills are held, debate takes place, negotiation over language occurs and amendments are adopted before the bills move forward. This process is the key element of our daily work during the legislative session.
As legislators we must be held to a higher standard because we work for the public. Choosing when to show up for work is not an option. We have a contract with the voters of our state to put them first. Our constituents have to show up to work 100% of the time. So do we.
Jon's comment that he cleared his absences with his Committee Chair and that he never would have skipped a committee voting session if he thought his absence would have made a difference in the outcome on an important issue completely misses the point. The fact is his absence during the critical decision-making process that takes place during committee voting sessions means he also missed the crucial action that precedes the final committee votes and brings into question his preparedness on the House Floor itself since he was operating without full information.
We are deeply disappointed by Jon's cavalier attitude toward his job and the suggestion that what we do in Annapolis in our committee is not important.
Contrast this behavior with that of another candidate for Attorney General, Senator Brian Frosh. Frosh did not miss a single vote in 2014 in the Judicial Proceedings Committee, which he has brilliantly led for the past 12 years. He did what we did. Brian Frosh showed up and did his work.
People are going to have a choice on June 24th. Our choice is to vote for and support the candidate that deserves a promotion, not the one that decided to take a pass this year.
We are proud to support our colleague, Brian Frosh for Attorney General. He has the skills and experience to lead and he will be a partner we can count on.