Shortly before the Democratic Party primary last month, veteran state legislator Curt Anderson confirmed that he was under investigation by the Maryland General Assembly’s ethics committee for sexual harassment and misconduct.
Since then, residents of North Baltimore’s 43rd District have pressed legislative leaders to ask Anderson, who has denied the allegations, to step down.
With this letter, sent to Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Kathleen Matthews, 94 district residents are demanding that party leaders ask Anderson to resign on August 14 if he has not been cleared of charges by the ethics committee.
At issue, say the letter writers, is the prospect of Anderson’s name remaining on the ballot in the November 6th general election with the investigation still pending and voters left “wondering whether we are voting for a serial abuser.”
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear Chair Matthews,
We are 94 women and genderqueer people who live in Maryland’s 43rd legislative district. Many of us have experienced workplace sexual harassment and its consequences, including public and private humiliation, diminished self-esteem, reduced productivity, and loss of opportunity for professional advancement.
We are deeply concerned by reports that Delegate Curt Anderson – who represents our district and chairs the Baltimore City Delegation – has, for decades, sexually harassed and even assaulted his colleagues and subordinates in Annapolis.
Last month, after early voting in the Maryland primary was already underway, The Baltimore Sun reported that the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics has been investigating Delegate Anderson for months. The Committee has been looking into numerous credible reports of sexual misconduct by Delegate Anderson, including allegations that he forced oral sex on a former staffer and harassed fellow legislators on the House floor. We believe the stories shared by these women.
When the Sun broke this story on June 15, Delegate Anderson was one of eight Democratic candidates running for three Delegate seats in the 43rd District. The unfortunate timing of the report ensured that thousands of voters cast ballots – many of them for Delegate Anderson – entirely unaware that he was under investigation for multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
We believe the stories shared by these women.
And because the Committee has yet to conclude its work or issue a public report, every single one of us voted without access to critical information about whether Delegate Anderson engaged in conduct that, in our view, would disqualify him from office.
Nevertheless, the results of June’s primary strongly suggest that voters were troubled by accounts of Delegate Anderson’s misconduct. During early voting, which began before the Sun revealed the General Assembly’s investigation, Delegate Anderson received the second highest number of votes for Delegate, over 1,000 more than the fourth-place finisher.
During Election Day voting, nearly two weeks after the Sun’s report, three candidates received more votes than Delegate Anderson, but the sizable lead he amassed during early voting proved insurmountable, and he finished in third place overall. Had voters been informed of the allegations against Delegate Anderson just a few days earlier, the outcome of the election might have been different.
As of now, Delegate Anderson is expected to accept his party’s nomination and appear as a Democratic candidate for Delegate in the 43rd district on November’s general election ballot. Unless he is definitively cleared of the current allegations, his candidacy will be a significant liability for the Democratic Party.
Without action by elected or Party officials, the investigation may remain pending on August 28, the last day when Delegate Anderson can remove his name from the ballot.
How can Maryland Democrats claim to value gender equity while throwing their support behind a candidate accused of demeaning and preying on women? How can Baltimore City Democrats credibly advocate for victims of sexual assault with an alleged harasser as their leader?
We have called on General Assembly leadership to complete and release the results of its investigation as expeditiously as possible but have received no clear commitments or timelines. Without action by elected or Party officials, the investigation may remain pending on August 28, the last day when Delegate Anderson can remove his name from the ballot and be replaced by the Democratic Central Committee.
If Delegate Anderson remains on the ballot after August, only to have the Ethics Committee or the police substantiate the accusations against him in the fall, it would humiliate the Democratic Party and all of us who are members and could very well lead to general election losses.
How can Baltimore City Democrats credibly advocate for victims of sexual assault with an alleged harasser as their leader?
Chair Matthews, we ask you to immediately announce that you will call on Delegate Anderson to resign and decline the Democratic Party’s nomination unless the ethics investigation clears him of wrongdoing by August 14. This investigation has been in progress for many months. If Delegate Anderson cannot be cleared of wrongdoing before August 14, he does not deserve the Democratic Party’s support or our votes.
In the Me Too era, it is tempting to imagine a future in which powerful men are swiftly brought to justice for their abuses. This November, we would settle for an opportunity to cast our ballots for the Democratic ticket without wondering whether we are voting for a serial abuser.
– Organizers say a version of this letter with 80 signatories was sent to Chair Matthews yesterday. Since then, a dozen more women and non-binary residents of the 43rd district have signed on.
Amber L. Beitelshees
Betty G. Robinson
Elizabeth H. Hill
Erica L. Brown
Hannah M. Rowley
Karen McGill Lawson
Maria W. Merritt
Mary Jo Kirschman
Mary T. Matheny
Michelle Green Clark
Rebecca C. Starr
Rianna M. Eckel