Carroll Republican may fight his ouster

Legality of removal from central committee at issue

July 19, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The ousted member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee claims the panel illegally removed him from an elected position, but he would have to ask a court to decide on such a claim, the state attorney general's office said last week.

The committee voted in closed session July 6 to remove Joe Burns Jr., who was elected to a four-year term in 2002.

Michelle Jefferson, committee chairwoman, said she followed the organization's bylaws and advice from the state organization in taking the action, which she called "housekeeping." Jefferson said she would withhold further comment while awaiting Burns' decision whether to officially contest his removal.

Burns said last week that he "is looking into getting a legal opinion." The committee gave him no reason for his removal, he said.

"I am the most experienced member of the central committee," he said. "I know the rules and bylaws."

Burns has served on the committee since he was appointed to fill a vacancy in February 2002. He ran successfully for election to keep the seat later that year.

"This situation has never come up before," he said. "Here we have elected officials voting another elected official out of office. I want to fight this because I don't want it to set a precedent."

The committee's action comes at a time when members must find a replacement to fill the House of Delegates seat vacated by Carmen Amedori. The two-term delegate representing District 5A - which includes Westminster, Manchester and Hampstead - resigned June 30 to accept a position on the Maryland Parole Commission.

The committee has 30 days from the date of the resignation to make its recommendation on Amedori's replacement to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Eight candidates have submitted resumes and asked to be considered.

The committee will interview candidates in an open forum at 6 p.m. Saturday in the public meeting room at the Carroll County Board of Education building on Court Street.

The absence of one committee member will have no impact on the decision, said Jefferson.

"We are moving forward and doing what we have to do," she said.

Burns - who had been asked to tender his resignation, but has not done so - asked, "Why is there housekeeping right before the single most important function the central committee has to deal with?"

Burns would have to go to court to test the validity of his argument, said Kevin Enright, spokesman for the attorney general.

"Election law article does contain provisions about the selection of party central committee members, and there is a subsection on tenure of members that suggests a member's term runs from election to election," Enright said.

"To the extent that something is not covered by the law, it is supposed to be governed by the party's constitution and bylaws," he said. "However, we believe an ousted central committee member would have to go to court to enforce any claim to his seat."

Burns said he plans to ask the attorney general for an official opinion.

The committee will advertise the vacancy created by Burns' removal as soon as it has completed its selection of Amedori's replacement, Jefferson said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.