It was an embarrassing spectacle in Prince George’s that seemed to compound the county’s image problems. Even after council member Leslie Johnson (D-Prince George’s) pleaded guilty last year in a federal corruption probe, she clung to her council seat, saying she wanted to stay in office until she was sentenced. She resigned after a public outcry, but her resignation was not effective for nearly another month.
But a bill introduced by two Prince George’s lawmakers in the General Assembly would make that scenario impossible. The measure aims to plug a loophole in Maryland law that has allowed convicted felons to stay in office until they go to jail.
The bill would propose an amendment to the state Constitution, subject to voter approval in a referendum, that would immediately force public officials out of office once they are convicted of a felony. It would cover all elected officials in Maryland, and it could be on the ballot by November.
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s) said she has enough support in the House of Delegates to force a referendum in November, assuming the 85 lawmakers who signed on actually vote for the bill. Most of the Prince George’s delegation is supporting the measure, Ivey said. Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-Prince George’s) is the Senate sponsor. He needs to round up the support of 28 other lawmakers.