Three weeks ago I joined the throngs of local media covering the latest installment of the state of Maryland’s persecution (and prosecution) of Walter Abbott. Just kidding: I was the only member of the media present for the final chapter of the O’Malley administration’s vindictive witch hunt (one can never underestimate the ability of local media to ignore stories that paint Maryland’s ruling party in a bad light).
In retrospect, I guess it was a warlock hunt.
Anyway… Abbott, whom many of you know as the man who – in 2008 – threatened to “strangle the life from” Gov. Martin O’Malley, has spent nearly four long years (and nearly all of his money) trying to prove the absurdity of the charges against him.
Was Abbott wrong to threaten the governor? At first glance, yes, and Abbott himself admits that he should have measured his words more carefully, but at the same time maintains his First Amendment right allows him to say whatever is on his mind – especially in light of losing his job thanks to competition supplied by illegal immigrant workers.
The state thought otherwise, claiming that the construction worker from Parkville had over stepped his bounds, and that Maryland law trumped the Constitution.
I can see the state’s mistake on that last one – our elected officials can’t be bothered to uphold Maryland’s Constitution (see: living in the state illegally), let alone enforce the tenets of the Big Enchilada.
Undeterred, O’Malley’s O’Minions hounded the Abbott family through three trials (even though the Court of Appeals sided with Walt after the second) with the working man prevailing twice thanks to a hung jury.
This brings us to the latest chapter; yet another taxpayer-funded scene that played out in a Towson courthouse in late August.
After a full day of jury selection jockeying, titillating testimony (thanks to an aloud reading of Abbott’s initial expletive-laden email) and admonishments of the peanut gallery for talking in ‘her’ courtroom (hmmm, I didn’t get my cut when she bought it back from taxpayers), presiding Judge Ensor sent everyone home so a ‘fresh start’ could be had the next morning.
Of course, had the judge allowed evidence from previous hearings – including the verbiage from the Court of Appeals ruling – a fresh start would have been about as necessary as a fourth trial.
Earlier, after a witness for the state took the stand and tried to paint Abbott as quite possibly the only human being on the planet with the nerve to dislike Father O’Guvnuh, I approached her – as any journalist is wont to do – for the proper spelling of her name.
This up close glimpse at the receptiveness and graciousness of a member of the O’Malley administration provided a microcosm of this government as a whole – they’re as open and transparent as a concrete wall.
After repeated ‘no comments’ and pursed-lipped secrecy as if I’d asked about political payoffs via wind farms, state witness number one led me to state witness number two; an officer of the law who shall remain nameless because 1) he also refused to spell his name for me and 2) I don’t want to blow that ‘everyone in uniform is a hero’ aura that is so prevalent these days.
O’Malley Cop’s suggestion was that I contact the governor’s press office for the proper spellings, but instead I suggested my effort would have met with more success had I flashed a CASA de Maryland ID card or written my request on a couple pieces of public union letterhead.
Did I mention that neither of the state’s witnesses had a sense of humor?
Day two did indeed bring a fresh start, but also delivered a familiar ending – yet another hung jury. Nearly two weeks later Abbott received word there would be no further trials, effectively ending our petulant governor’s taxpayer-funded vendetta.
“Nothing has changed,” Abbott told me after getting the good news. “Now they’re going to use my fellow citizen’s tax dollars to pay my way… because I can’t get another job to pay my own taxes.”
While the state considers the matter settled, Walter Abbott isn’t so sure.
“I’m looking at my options,” Abbott said. “After all that I’ve lost I don’t feel like this is really over. Thanks to O’Malley I’ve had a felony hanging over my head for the last three-and-a-half years – think that has anything to do with me not hearing back from the hundreds of job applications I’ve sent out?”
In addition to being saddled with the felony charges, Abbott has been forced to sell his car, tools and much of his wife’s jewelry to help cover legal expenses. There’s also the matter of a $500 fine for which he has yet to be reimbursed, as well as the destruction of his legally-owned handgun – which was confiscated the day he sent the email.
And yet, a four-year beat-down attempt by state officials seems to have strengthened Abbott’s resolve instead of diminishing it.
“I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing,” Abbott said. “There’s a lot of problems and corruption in this state that still needs to be dealt with.”
See, to Robin Hood O’Malley and his merry band of sycophants, it is people like Walter Abbott who exhibit the criminal behavior – especially when it comes to bucking the state’s cozy, one-party control.
Was Abbott’s action any more criminal than a legislature that holds midnight votes during special sessions so as not to have to answer to constituents?
Was Abbott’s email any more criminal than a legislator who sneaks bond bills into the budget too late for a debate of its merits when the money goes to a high school in the legislator’s district?
Was Abbott’s threat any more outrageous than an elected body that votes to give millions of taxpayer dollars to a non-profit organization that aids and abets those who are in this country illegally?
Was the Abbott email any more egregious than that same body that passed a law allowing children of illegal immigrants to attend college at a cheaper tuition rate than immigrants who are in this state legally?
Was Abbott’s threat any more criminal than the violation of his First, Second, Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights?
Was Abbott’s act as insulting and threatening as those of a governor who calls his anti-illegal constituents “thinly-veiled” racists?
Was Abbott’s lashing out any worse than a governor referring to tens of thousands of law breakers as “New Americans”?
Was Abbott’s ‘criminal behavior’ worse than that of a state senator who allegedly took $250,000 to lobby on behalf of a company that was paying him a salary?
Or how about a state legislature that failed to not only rebuke or censure said senator, but allowed him to serve his term as if this sort of behavior is acceptable?
Oh, right… it is, after all, Maryland.
And that’s with no mention of the wind farm payoffs, the PlanMaryland scam, punishing rural communities via increased tolls, overseeing an incomparable rise in poverty among Marylanders during this administration and whispers about burdening the populace with a higher gas tax.
Speaking of which… if ethics were gasoline this bunch couldn’t power a moped around State Circle.
But while the ‘ruling class’ stuffs their pockets, reelection coffers and national office resumes – and allow people who are in this country illegally to freely break our laws – they drive a “criminal” such as Walter Abbott to the brink and keep a proverbial boot on his throat throughout the process.
“I’ll be down there [Annapolis] testifying every chance I get,” Abbott concluded. “They want me to go away, but I’m not going anywhere.”
Good, now here’s hoping Walter Abbott has learned his lesson: the next time he sends correspondence to the governor he should be sure to do so on AFSCME letterhead.