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Political Experience ofDouglas F. Gansler

  • Maryland Attorney General (2007-2015)

    Gansler took office as Maryland's attorney general in January 2007, after winning election in November 2006. He was re-elected on November 2, 2010. Gansler declined to seek a third term as attorney general in 2014, deciding to run for governor instead. He was defeated in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

    Minimum wage increase

    In the fall of 2013, Gansler joined many political leaders to push for an increase in the state minimum wage. Among the biggest supporters of mandatory higher pay is the new state Rep. John Delaney (D-6) who pledged to put his own personal funds behind a campaign to raise the minimum wage state-wide. On September 6, Gansler urged an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour. "Clearly the time has come to raise the minimum wage here in Maryland," Gansler said. "While the economy shows signs of recovery, too many working families are struggling."

    Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

    On March 11, 2013, Gansler, together with 12 other state attorneys general, sent a letter to Congress in support of the Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act, a bill that sought to ban for-profit colleges from using federal funds for marketing and recruiting techniques. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chaired the chamber's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sponsored the bill. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) stated that the proposed law aimed to “ensure that scarce federal education dollars will be used to serve and educate students rather than to finance advertising campaigns, recruitment operations, and aggressive marketing.”

    In the letter, the attorneys general wrote, “Federal taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for aggressive recruiting and deceptive sales tactics of colleges that have placed profits ahead of ensuring student success.” At the time, there were an estimated 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, though neither the letter nor the bill cited the name of any specific institutions.

    On March 12, 2013, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, but no subsequent action was taken and the bill died in committee. On April 23, 2013, a related bill—HR 340—was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, but it also died in committee.

    ACORN

    The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by the liberal political organization, ACORN, gave Gansler an A letter grade. The report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," according to the group. The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell.

    Same-sex marriage

    On February 25, 2010, Gansler published the opinion that stated that "there is no law in Maryland that says we don't recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples." This, in effect, required state agencies to extend all benefits given to married heterosexual couples to married gay couples. At the same time, however, this ruling did not apply to private industries nor did it suggest that state law permits homosexuals to be wed there.

    Impeachment attempt

    As a result of Gansler's February 2010 legal opinion, in which he argued that state courts must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, an inquiry led by Republican state Del. Don Dwyer, Jr. was made as to whether or not the state house had the authority to impeach the state's attorney general. Dwyer and his supporters argued that the line in Article III of the state constitution, in which it states that "the Maryland House of Delegates shall have the sole power of impeachment in all cases," gives the state legislative body that power. Others argued there was a conflict within the state constitution on this particular issue, pointing out another provision saying that the state attorney general "shall be subject to removal for incompetency, willful neglect of duty or misdemeanor in office, on conviction in a Court of Law."

    Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch appointed a Democratic delegate as parliamentarian to interpret the rules for the state house. In response, Dwyer filed an ethics complaint against Busch for not delegating the position to a staff member, as is done in other legislatures. On Wednesday, March 31, 2010, the State House Judiciary Committee voted 15-5 against taking such action against Gansler, contending that his legal opinion "did not merit impeachment proceedings."

  • Montgomery County State's Attorney (1998-2006)

    In 1998, Gansler was elected State's Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, serving January 1999 to January 2007. While State's Attorney, he prosecuted several high-profile cases including the Beltway snipers, John Muhammad, and Lee Boyd Malvo. Under his leadership as State’s Attorney, the office was the first in the nation to fully implement community prosecution. Gansler also launched innovative and successful programs to fight gangs, punish criminals, and protect the public, including the first domestic violence dockets and first drug courts in the county, a first-in-the-state gang prosecution unit, the first Elder Abuse Task Force in Maryland to specifically target criminals preying on seniors, and the first Internet crime unit in the State.

    On one occasion during the eight years he served as State’s Attorney, the Maryland Court of Appeals sanctioned him for impermissible public statements about a possible confession and possible plea in a high-profile case involving the brutal beating and murder of a Maryland jogger. He was the first elected State's Attorney to be sanctioned by the court. Legal commentators noted at the time that the Court of Appeals’ controversial decision would have a chilling effect on public safety and the public’s right to know, and that the decision failed to account for prosecutors’ affirmative responsibility to report to the public on the prosecutions they carry out on its behalf.

  • Minimum wage increase

    In the fall of 2013, Gansler joined many political leaders to push for an increase in the state minimum wage. Among the biggest supporters of mandatory higher pay is the new state Rep. John Delaney (D-6) who pledged to put his own personal funds behind a campaign to raise the minimum wage state-wide. On September 6, Gansler urged an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour. "Clearly the time has come to raise the minimum wage here in Maryland," Gansler said. "While the economy shows signs of recovery, too many working families are struggling."

  • Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

    On March 11, 2013, Gansler, together with 12 other state attorneys general, sent a letter to Congress in support of the Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act, a bill that sought to ban for-profit colleges from using federal funds for marketing and recruiting techniques. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chaired the chamber's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sponsored the bill. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) stated that the proposed law aimed to “ensure that scarce federal education dollars will be used to serve and educate students rather than to finance advertising campaigns, recruitment operations, and aggressive marketing.”

    In the letter, the attorneys general wrote, “Federal taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for aggressive recruiting and deceptive sales tactics of colleges that have placed profits ahead of ensuring student success.” At the time, there were an estimated 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, though neither the letter nor the bill cited the name of any specific institutions.

    On March 12, 2013, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, but no subsequent action was taken and the bill died in committee. On April 23, 2013, a related bill—HR 340—was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce's subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, but it also died in committee.

  • ACORN

    The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by the liberal political organization, ACORN, gave Gansler an A letter grade. The report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," according to the group. The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell.

  • Same-sex marriage

    On February 25, 2010, Gansler published the opinion that stated that "there is no law in Maryland that says we don't recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples." This, in effect, required state agencies to extend all benefits given to married heterosexual couples to married gay couples. At the same time, however, this ruling did not apply to private industries nor did it suggest that state law permits homosexuals to be wed there.

  • Impeachment attempt

    As a result of Gansler's February 2010 legal opinion, in which he argued that state courts must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, an inquiry led by Republican state Del. Don Dwyer, Jr. was made as to whether or not the state house had the authority to impeach the state's attorney general. Dwyer and his supporters argued that the line in Article III of the state constitution, in which it states that "the Maryland House of Delegates shall have the sole power of impeachment in all cases," gives the state legislative body that power. Others argued there was a conflict within the state constitution on this particular issue, pointing out another provision saying that the state attorney general "shall be subject to removal for incompetency, willful neglect of duty or misdemeanor in office, on conviction in a Court of Law."

    Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch appointed a Democratic delegate as parliamentarian to interpret the rules for the state house. In response, Dwyer filed an ethics complaint against Busch for not delegating the position to a staff member, as is done in other legislatures. On Wednesday, March 31, 2010, the State House Judiciary Committee voted 15-5 against taking such action against Gansler, contending that his legal opinion "did not merit impeachment proceedings."

    Montgomery County State's Attorney (1998-2006)

    In 1998, Gansler was elected State's Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, serving January 1999 to January 2007. While State's Attorney, he prosecuted several high-profile cases including the Beltway snipers, John Muhammad, and Lee Boyd Malvo. Under his leadership as State’s Attorney, the office was the first in the nation to fully implement community prosecution. Gansler also launched innovative and successful programs to fight gangs, punish criminals, and protect the public, including the first domestic violence dockets and first drug courts in the county, a first-in-the-state gang prosecution unit, the first Elder Abuse Task Force in Maryland to specifically target criminals preying on seniors, and the first Internet crime unit in the State.

    On one occasion during the eight years he served as State’s Attorney, the Maryland Court of Appeals sanctioned him for impermissible public statements about a possible confession and possible plea in a high-profile case involving the brutal beating and murder of a Maryland jogger. He was the first elected State's Attorney to be sanctioned by the court. Legal commentators noted at the time that the Court of Appeals’ controversial decision would have a chilling effect on public safety and the public’s right to know, and that the decision failed to account for prosecutors’ affirmative responsibility to report to the public on the prosecutions they carry out on its behalf.