Governor weds longtime aide

Before Friday vows and secret ceremony, Crawford quit post

January 29, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening quietly wed his deputy chief of staff over the weekend and will return from a brief honeymoon later this week, aides said yesterday.

Glendening, 59, and Jennifer E. Crawford, 35, were married in a civil ceremony inside the governor's mansion at 4 p.m. Friday.

Members of both families were invited to a more lavish celebration Saturday evening, when vows were exchanged again in a second ceremony, said Michael Morrill, the governor's communications director.

The couple left town the next day for an undisclosed destination, and Glendening will return to official duties Thursday.

It is the third marriage for the governor, who was divorced from Frances Hughes Glendening on Nov. 19. It is the first for Crawford, a longtime aide who held several jobs in the administration before resigning from state government effective Friday.

Keeping with Glendening's desire for privacy, only a small circle of friends and officials were notified of the wedding ahead of time. Most of the 50-member executive staff were told during a meeting yesterday morning.

The governor's office released a photograph of the couple showing a tuxedo-clad groom standing behind the bride, who wore a white strapless gown and a shawl. Their fingers are encircled by gleaming gold bands.

"The bottom line of my observation of that couple is that they are very happy together, and ready to face a new future together," said Anne Arundel Circuit Court Clerk Robert P. Duckworth, who performed Friday's ceremony.

No public funds were used for the wedding reception or honeymoon, Morrill said, adding that he did not have a guest list for either ceremony. No government officials were invited, he said.

"This is literally news to me," said James C. Rosapepe, a former legislator and longtime Glendening friend appointed by the governor to the university system Board of Regents. "It's his personal life. He's entitled to his personal life."

Major F. Riddick Jr., the governor's former chief of staff and a candidate for Prince George's County executive, said through a spokeswoman that he, too, did not learn of the marriage until yesterday.

"The governor has been a friend of mine for over two decades, and I wish he and his entire family my very best," Riddick said.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was told in advance of the wedding but was not invited, according to a spokesman.

Glendening has a son, Raymond, 22, from his second marriage. His first marriage, to Lynne V. Shaw, ended in divorce shortly after he moved from Florida to Maryland in the early 1970s.

New first lady

Crawford, who is expected to keep her maiden name, will as Glendening's spouse assume the unofficial title of first lady, a position that traditionally comes with publicly funded staff and other expenses.

But administration officials said that with less than a year remaining until a new governor is elected, she is not expected to have personnel at her disposal or advocate for issues.

Glendening and Crawford will reside - along with two small terriers - at Government House, the official executive residence that is part of the state capital complex in Annapolis.

Crawford owns a townhouse in Annapolis, which became a focal point last year for an article in the Washington Post about the governor's relationship with his aide. The article, published in August, said Glendening spent the night at her home on several occasions.

The newspaper delayed publishing the article for several weeks, but said it was persuaded to act after Comptroller William Donald Schaefer referred to Crawford as the "big boss" to whom he would appeal to resolve a spat he was having with Glendening.

The governor had shut down a fountain at Government House that had been commissioned by Schaefer's longtime companion, Hilda Mae Snoops.

Glendening and Crawford have never publicly commented on their relationship.

In July 2000, the governor's office confirmed that he and Frances Glendening were living apart, a development that surprised many because it came just a few weeks after she appeared at his side as he was installed as head of the National Governors' Association.

Their divorce in November came two days before what would have been their 25th wedding anniversary.

Increasing responsibilities

Crawford worked on Glendening's campaigns, and subsequently held a series of government jobs with increasing responsibilities and pay.

State records show that her salary rose from $46,576 in May 1997 to $107,732 this year. As one of three deputy chiefs of staff, her portfolio of responsibilities included some of the issues of greatest concern to the governor, including Smart Growth and the environment.

Under the Maryland Constitution, Glendening is prevented from seeking a third consecutive term.

Crawford, a vegetarian, has angered some sportsmen's groups who believe she is behind what they perceive to be stronger administration positions against hunting.

She played an active role in Glendening's congressional redistricting plan, a draft of which was released last week.

Critics have raised questions about the propriety of close relations between a supervisor and subordinate in the executive branch, but no law or guidelines address the situation.

Sushant Sindh, an assistant to Crawford, will serve as acting deputy chief of staff, Morrill said.

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