Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti: How the culture of silence continues in Annapolis

Op/Ed: Anonymous Contributor

On February 25th, an article from the Washington Post’s Ovetta Wiggins detailed how 2nd term Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (Democrat, D34A) described District 26 in Prince George’s County as a “nigger district” when a white colleague said they did door-knocking there.

Her follow up response regarding whether she had used the slur in the past, that “she couldn’t recall” and “that everyone uses that word”, along with her cavalier usage of such an ugly, racist term in front of a racially mixed, bipartisan audience says a lot. The fact that this happened nearly a month ago and not a word was said to the public until now says even more.

Let’s put this circumstance in context.

Lisanti’s justification that “I’m sure everyone’s used it” is indicative that this is not a term “outside of her vocabulary”, as her weak apology stated. It shows that she is clearly in overtly racist circles, which helps to explain why white Democrats in Harford County and the Lisanti-Art Helton machine do not support black candidates (Carlos Taylor, Marla Posey-Moss, & Sarahia Benn) as much as they supported Steve Johnson in this past cycle.

Hers is a particularly disturbing pattern of thought, as Lisanti’s district is nearly 1⁄3 black. She won her primary and general elections with black votes, and uses one of the most disgusting and blood-soaked words in the English language to describe us.

Why is Lisanti being so protected by Annapolis?

She was being groomed to run for Congress in MD-02, currently represented by Dutch Ruppersberger. Dereck Davis, Prince George’s County corporate Democrat, was present while Lisanti made these remarks and is preparing to run for Speaker of the House. Keep those two names in mind with the donation amounts below. Delegate Luke Clippinger (D46), the new Chair of House Judiciary and presumed future Attorney General candidate, also did door-knocking on her behalf during the general election; however, ask how many of his constituents saw him in his own district during the primary election?

Lisanti is also an influential member of the House Economic Matters Committee, which is chaired by Delegate Dereck E. Davis – who gave multiple donations to Lisanti totaling close to $5,000; and the committee recently gutted the $15 minimum wage bill to exclude agricultural workers and tipped workers: the exact same tactics the Dixiecrats used to water down the New Deal. However, all of the blame does not go to Delegate Lisanti.

For the Republicans AND the black Democrats who were present when she uttered this disgusting statement, why were there no immediate consequences? Why did we have to wait for this rumor to trickle into the press instead of calling her out in General Assembly the next day. This multi-week wait (during Black History Month, no less) shows that neither her apology was sincere nor did the Black Caucus discuss this in earnest prior to the news leak. To party leadership, particularly House Speaker Busch & State Senate President Miller, why are you not leading the calls to right this?

Of course, Mike Miller has his own history of racist remarks, including calling Baltimore “a fucking ghetto, shit, worse than inner-city Washington D.C” and his defense of a statue to the Dred v. Scott author Roger Taney.

The original response by the Black Caucus and Speaker Busch to give her “sensitivity training” and remove her from her leadership position of the Unemployment Insurance sub-committee was widely viewed as a weak response when even Steve King was reprimanded for his racist statements. The following were in the same space as Lisanti at the time this racist statement was made:

– Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), who represents the district Lisanti was allegedly referring to;

– House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-45-Baltimore City);

– Dels. Theresa E. Reilly (R-Harford)

– Delegate Warren E. Miller (R-Howard)

– Delegate Carl L. Anderton Jr. (R-Wicomico)

– State Sen. Brian J. Feldman (D-Montgomery)

In her campaign finance reports during the 2014 & 2018 races, she received a lot of money from a wide variety of corporate PACs, but also plenty of money from Maryland politicians, including Baltimore City politicians who have refused to respond to her statement, including Senator Cory McCray, who is also the first-vice chair of the MD Democratic Party, whose company McCray Properties gave Lisanti $50 on the exact same day that his political group, the BEST Democratic Club, gave her $100. Delegate Brooke Lierman, gave Lisanti $250 just a few months ago, but has yet to speak out against her language.

She received donations from the following politicians, PACs or committees:

– $2,750 from Friends of Dereck Davis

– $2,000 from Dereck Davis for Congress

– $2,000 from Friends of Charles Barkley

– $1250 from Former Senator Joseph Tydings

– $1500 from former Harford County Council candidate Wini Roche

– $1,000 from Baltimore County Senator Bobby Zirkin

– $1,000 from Citizens for Maggie McIntosh

– $1,000 from Mike Miller’s former Chief of Staff, Patrick Murray

– $790 from Dutch Ruppersberger for Congress (MD-02)

– $750 from Friends of Marc Korman

– $500 from People for Shane Pendergrass (D13)

– $500 from former Congressional candidate Aruna Miller

– $500 from Citizens for Senator Brian Feldman (D15)

– $500 from Dutch Ruppersberger PAC

– $450 from formerly imprisoned lobbyist Bruce Bereano

– $400 from Friends of Senator Jim Rosapepe (D21)

– $350 from former Baltimore County Executive Dennis Rasmussen

– $325 from former Congressional candidate & current lobbyist Robert Garagiola

(MD-06)

– $250 from Brooke Lierman for Delegate (D46)

– $250 from Bowie City Lobbyist Len Lucchi

– $250 from Friends of Eric Luedtke Election Committee (D14)

– $200 from Montgomery County Senator Ben Kramer (D19)

– $150 from Delegate Steve Johnson (D34A)

– $100 from Senator Guy Guzzone (D13)

– $100 from Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D21)

– $65 from Harford County Central Committee Member Barbara Kreamer

– $60 from former Congressional candidate Jesse Colvin (MD-01)

– $60 from Harford County Councilwoman Brigette Johnson

 

Could one wonder if this deluge of money from these elected officials and influential members of the Democratic Party be one of the reasons why party leadership and the rank-and-file are muted in their response? There’s a reason that the freshmen are charging ahead in calling for a resignation, while others have still not even commented. Historically, white Democrats have gotten off with not just racist rhetoric, but racist campaigns. The longtime State Senate President, Senator Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. (D, D27, was asked in a 1983 interview why he was having a $250 fundraiser in Baltimore.

He responded: “It helps educate my constituents as to why Baltimore needs the economic help. I mean Baltimore is a goddamn ghetto. It’s worse than inner-city Washington, D.C. It is shit. I hope you’re not going to play this on tape,” Miller then said to the interviewer, laughing nervously. What was his punishment? Nothing.

State Senator Anthony Muse (D26) called for a censure on Miller, after he refused to vote to remove a statue on State House grounds to Roger Taney, the chief author of the horrifically racist Dred v. Scott decision. Because Miller faced no consequences for these actions, it is not surprising that Delegate Lisanti believes she can also walk away from this.

At time of writing, the following have called for her resignation publicly and seen by the author:

– Dr. Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings, Chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party

– Howard County Register of Wills Byron McFarlane

– Howard County Councilwoman Liz Walsh (D1)

– Howard County Councilman Opel Jones (D2)

– Baltimore City Council candidate Christopher Ervin (District 5)

– Delegate Stephanie Smith (D45)

– Delegate Melissa Wells (D40)

– Delegate Alice Cain (D30)

– Delegate Gabriel Acevero (D39)

– Delegate Vaughn Stewart (D19)

– Delegate Jessica Feldmark (D12)

– Former House of Delegates Candidate Ysela Bravo-Schwetje

– Prince George’s County Board of Education Member Ed Burroughs

– Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy

– Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks

– Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee At-Large Christopher

Luis Stevenson

– Maryland State NAACP Y&CD President Chanel Ferguson

– The Legislative Black Caucus

– Center for American Islamic Relations

– Maryland State Conference of the NAACP

– American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland

– African American Democratic Clubs of Maryland Inc.

– Ujima People’s Progress Party

– Maryland Democratic Party

– Maryland Republican Party

– Governor Larry Hogan

– Harford County Executive Barry Glassman

I join in many to call for the Legislative Black Caucus (which represents nearly 1⁄3 of the General Assembly) to begin whipping votes for a censure. Lisanti has stated in a statement that she does not plan to resign.

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