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Settlement Ends Campaign To Oust Md. Election Official

Board, Lamone Agree to New Benchmarks

By Eric Rich and Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 3, 2004; Page B01

Maryland Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone will keep her job under an agreement disclosed yesterday that settles administrative and legal claims between her and the State Board of Elections.

The Election Day announcement of a settlement reached Oct. 27 ended a legal and political drama that began several months ago, when Republicans who control the board sought to oust Lamone, a 1997 appointee of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat.


Md. Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone will have new performance standards. (Chris Gardner -- AP)

Under the agreement, the board dismissed its administrative effort to remove Lamone from office, and Lamone dropped her court challenge of that effort.

It sets new performance standards for Lamone and states that failure to meet those standards could constitute grounds for her removal. Her performance will be evaluated in three months and every six months thereafter.

The nine-page settlement states that Lamone must respond to board members' "direction in a timely and appropriate manner." It requires that she and board members treat one another with "dignity and respect," and that they not disparage one another's personal or professional reputations.

It calls for board members generally to seek information from Lamone "without micro-managing the day to day activities of the staff." In addition, it requires that the board's Web site banner and letterhead be revised to include names of board members.

The agreement, reached after three weeks of mediation with a retired judge, requires that Lamone and the board refrain from commenting on the settlement. In interviews yesterday, Lamone declined to comment, as did board Chairman Gilles W. Burger.

Since late this summer, Republicans have prepared a confidential list of charges in which they alleged that Lamone had been insubordinate to the board and unresponsive to local election officials. The charges, which made no mention of her partisan affiliation, detailed about a dozen episodes that the board contended were grounds for her removal.

Under state law, elections administrators can be removed only by the vote of four of the five board members for "incompetence, misconduct or other good cause."

The charges accused Lamone of ignoring the chairman's directive to attend a board meeting rather than testify at a congressional hearing the same day. She was also accused of dismissing local board suggestions for improving election administration as "whining."

Democrats have accused the board of trying to oust Lamone so Republicans can gain a tighter grip on the state's election machinery. The state elections administrator has authority over local election boards and can play a pivotal role in resolving contested elections, such as Maryland's 1994 gubernatorial race, which was decided by fewer than 6,000 votes.

In September, a judge ruled that Lamone could not be ousted before yesterday's election because doing so could be disruptive to the vote count.


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