Arrest Clouds Moxley's Political Future

July 29, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,

Baltimore County Councilman Stephen G. "Sam" Moxley, arrested on drunken-driving charges for the second time in four years, faces an uncertain political future as he completes his fourth term and considers whether to run for re-election or for another office next year.

While some Republicans are calling for him to resign, members of Moxley's Democratic Party are standing by the council member for now, even as they express concerns over his arrest Friday. Moxley did not attend a council work session Tuesday afternoon and has not returned calls from The Baltimore Sun for comment.

Moxley, 50, was involved in a four-car accident about 1:20 a.m. Friday on West Franklin Street at North Pulaski Street, according to police reports. When police arrived, Moxley was "swaying a bit," said Anthony Guglielmi, a city police spokesman. He failed a sobriety test and was taken into custody. He later refused a Breathalyzer test.

The incident prompted Chris Cavey, chairman of the county's Republican Party Central Committee, to demand that Moxley step down from the council, which he said is "spiraling out of control."

Salvatore E. Anello, an Arbutus attorney and Democratic activist, called Cavey's comments "hyperbolic nonsense."

"The Republicans want his head on a platter because they know they can't defeat Moxley in a fair, balanced election," Anello said. "Unlike Republicans, I am not going to condemn this man until his trial. His 16 years in office earn him the benefit of the doubt."

But even Anello, who recently helped sponsor a fundraiser for Moxley, acknowledged that he was troubled by the councilman's second arrest. In September 2005, Moxley was given probation before judgment and a year of supervised probation after he sideswiped a vehicle. He was also ordered to complete a drunken-driving program.

"What has happened is shocking and puts everything into question," Anello said. "Sam has to answer for it."

Moxley represents the 1st District, which includes Catonsville, Arbutus, Halethorpe and Relay, and his term ends next year. He has been rumored to be considering a run for clerk of the court.

Donald F. Norris, professor and chairman of the department of public policy at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said the charge "clearly weakens Moxley, if he chooses to stay in public office." But, he added, voters' memories can be short.

"Next year is a long time in the political world," Norris said. "Clearly, this incident gives ammunition to any primary opponent, and then to any Republican opponent."

Moxley's colleagues on the seven-member council, which includes six Democrats, refused to comment. Another Democratic councilman, Kenneth Oliver, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of campaign fund violations and received a $2,500 fine and 50 hours of community service.

"It is time for Councilman Moxley to seek professional help and to step down from his position on the County Council," Cavey said. "Our elected officials should be role models, not repeatedly breaking the law and risking injury or death to innocent people."

But Brian S. Bailey, chairman of the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee, said Moxley and his family "should be allowed to deal with this matter privately."

Harry Korrell, president of the Patapsco Valley Republicans, echoed the call for Moxley to resign, saying he "should graciously bow out and get the help he needs." He rejected the notion that the arrest is a private matter.

"This is also a matter for those Moxley represents," Korrell said. "What kind of representation can he give constituents when he is tied up in litigation and rehab?"

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