For too long, political corruption has infected Annapolis and local governments around our state, contributing to public cynicism and eroding trust in our institutions.
Governor Hogan was elected to clean up the mess in Annapolis and restore Marylanders’ trust in state government, and over the course of the past four years, that is exactly what he has done. The governor fundamentally believes that Maryland state government - and those who lead it - have a duty to be better than the failed Washington-style politicians. He will never stop fighting for common sense, bipartisan government reforms, transparency, and accountability.
To achieve these goals, the governor took important steps to hold government officials to higher standards, and keep them more accountable to the public.
Within 48 hours of taking office in 2015, Governor Hogan signed his first executive order establishing stringent ethical standards for all members of his executive branch. The order prohibits employees from accepting gifts from anyone doing business with the state, bans conflicts of interest, and bars staff from trading on insider information, among other important reforms.
In the aftermath of a rash of state and federal criminal investigations targeting lawmakers in Annapolis - cases that resulted in multiple state and federal indictments and resignations from office - Governor Hogan led the successful fight for the Public Integrity Act of 2017. It was the most far-reaching and comprehensive ethics reform bill in our state in over a decade. The law expanded public disclosure requirements, tightened conflict of interest rules, strengthened restrictions on using public office for personal gain, and established a citizen advisory board to make recommendations on future changes to ethics laws.
Marylanders deserve accountability and transparency from their elected officials. That is why Governor Hogan is fighting to require that all General Assembly sessions be video livestreamed online. Maryland has the unfortunate distinction of being one of only seven remaining states in the nation to not allow citizens to view live video of deliberations of the legislature. That needs to change. Marylanders have a right to know what their elected officials are saying and doing during debate on the important issues.
Sadly, after years of scandals and abuse of public trust, nearly one in three Marylanders believe corruption is a real problem in state government. In response, the governor has aggressively targeted criminal behavior in Maryland’s prisons and correctional system. Over one hundred individuals - including correctional officers, inmates, and their accomplices - were arrested for prison corruption, conspiracies, and smuggling.
Governor Hogan strongly believes that government works best when politicians return home after serving in public office and live under the laws they passed. But today, career politicians run for reelection term after term for decades. The fact is, even good people grow distant from their constituents, get too cozy with lobbyists, and become beholden to the special-interest donors they need to remain in office. That’s why Governor Hogan is proposing term limits for delegates and senators (two, four-year terms apiece, the same restrictions that apply to the governor). It is time to welcome new leaders and fresh ideas.
Similarly, Governor Hogan is one of the nation’s leading advocates for non-partisan redistricting reform. Today, lawmakers abuse the system through gerrymandering to consolidate their own power at the expense of the voters. These politicians draw up bizarrely-shaped, meandering electoral districts that grab friendly voters, while casting out others, resulting in so-called “safe” districts where no opponent has a chance of successfully competing against an incumbent. Governor Hogan believes voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. That is why he proposes taking this process out of the hands of self-interested, partisan politicians operating behind closed doors, and put it in the hands of a transparent, non-partisan commission.
Together, term limits and non-partisan redistricting reform will result in more competitive elections, keep politicians honest, give voters a stronger voice in their government, and reduce the partisan divisiveness that plagues our political system.
The governor will keep fighting for these good government reforms no matter how much opposition he faces from entrenched, status quo Annapolis politicians. It is simply the right thing to do.