Maryland lawmakers spent seven hours behind closed doors Wednesday as a legislative ethics panel met to consider allegations against Del. Curt Anderson, who has been accused by several women of sexual misbehavior.
Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat, arrived in Annapolis a few minutes after the scheduled 9:30 a.m. meeting of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Minutes later, panel members voted to close the meeting — standard practice when it considers allegations against members of the General Assembly.
After the meeting ended at about 3:30 p.m., committee members declined to answer questions about what happened in the hearing room.
“I can’t comment on anything,” said Sen. James E. “Ed” DeGrange of Anne Arundel County, the panel’s co-chairman.
Complaints about Anderson have been referred to the committee, which can recommend penalties up to expulsion for members found to have committed ethics violations. Other possible penalties include a letter of reprimand or censure.
Anderson has previously denied each of the individual allegations and noted he has not been charged with any crime or ethics violation. He made no comment to a reporter except to say “hello.”
In June five women – two former staffers and three current lawmakers – told The Baltimore Sun that an outside investigator hired by the committee had interviewed them about their experiences with Anderson.
The accusations range from an alleged sexual assault 14 years ago to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments about women’s appearance, according to the women and a 2017 Baltimore police report.
A court reporter was present at the meeting, indicating that the committee was making a transcript of the proceedings. She left the meeting about 2 p.m. indicating that the hearing phase of the meeting was over and that committee members were holding discussions.
Ethics committee members are barred from disclosing the panel’s business to the media and public. Any findings will be reported to the House speaker and Senate president.
The committee members who may pass judgment on Anderson include several who will not be returning when the General Assembly convenes again in January. They include DeGrange, a Democrat who is retiring; Baltimore’s Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, defeated for re-election in the Democratic primary, and House Majority Leader Bill Frick, who lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County executive.
McFadden was the first lawmaker to arrive. “Gotta be here. Gotta be doing the people’s business,” he said.
Other lawmakers who are not committee members were also seen waiting outside the hearing room.
They included Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who represents Anderson’s 43rd District but was defeated in the June Democratic primary.
Also on hand were Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat who has been a staunch defender of Anderson’s right to due process amid calls from other Democrats for the panel to come to a quick decision, and Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery Democrat who accused an Annapolis lobbyist of inappropriately touching her in one of the earliest #MeToo incidents in Annapolis.
Anderson has come under pressure from some constituents to resign and relinquish his position on the November ballot. He faces a deadline of Aug. 28 if he decides to remove his name from the ballot.