(Above: Glen Keith Allen introduces a video about vaccines. Allen, a contract attorney for Baltimore City, had his contract terminated Thursday.)
A lawyer for Baltimore with apparent longtime ties to neo-Nazi groups had his contract terminated by the city Thursday after some of his past activities were exposed Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Then on Friday afternoon, the top Baltimore city lawyer who hired him suddenly stepped down, and it was not clear whether he too was terminated by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake or whether he decided to retire.
Glen Keith Allen, 65, had been involved in defending Baltimore police in civil litigation over at least one wrongful prosecution case, court records show, as a member of the city’s Litigation and Claims Practice Group. Baltimore’s law department has gained renown for fighting such lawsuits all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, often costing taxpayers more in fees to outside counsel than the actual payments to victims of police misconduct.
But the city apparently was unaware of Allen’s history with groups such as the white supremacist National Alliance in years past, and more recently, with the American Eagle Party, deemed an offshoot of the racist American Freedom Party by the SPLC, which monitors American hate groups. In a post Wednesday, the SPLC posted receipts showing that Allen made a $500 contribution to the National Alliance in 2003 and paid to attend a 2007 conference discussing denial of the Holocaust. More recently, he was listed last October as vice chairman of the American Eagle Party and posted a YouTube video that month introducing an AEP-sponsored debate on the viability of vaccinations.
The revelation of a man with seeming white supremacist ties on the city’s payroll, in light of the city’s tense racial climate and last week’s scathing report on discriminatory Baltimore police practices by the U.S. Justice Department, created another setback for Baltimore’s attempts to achieve some sort of racial harmony. And his hiring, by a former colleague, apparently cost the city’s top attorney his job too.
Allen said in an interview Friday that he was not a white supremacist, but that he agreed with Baltimore’s decision to end his contract. He said the article could influence a judge’s rulings against his clients because “that judge didn’t like you. So now I just have to deal with it … I was helping the city to win litigation and defending their lawsuits.”
Allen said he had worked in private practice with DLA Piper and that George A. Nilson, the Baltimore city solicitor, was his colleague there. On Friday, Nilson, 74, left the city’s top legal job, which he had held since 2007. “The Mayor thanks Mr. Nilson for his dedicated service to the City of Baltimore,” the mayor’s office said in a statement, “and wishes him well in his future endeavors,” without saying why or how Nilson suddenly left his job, only that he “will no longer be City Solicitor of Baltimore City.”
The managing partner for DLA Piper did not respond to a request for comment Friday on the treatment of its two former attorneys.
Allen repeated his claim, first made to The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, that he had not been a member of the National Alliance “for many years,” which he told The Sun was “a huge mistake.” He acknowledged that he is still vice chairman of the American Eagle Party, “but you’re talking about a handful of people.” He said that group “has nothing to do with race, there’s no racial element at all,” and that its leader, Merlin Miller, left the American Freedom Party because of its racist overtones. He acknowledged that the American Eagle Party “is anti-Zionist. It’s critical of Israel and supporters of Israel.”
The SPLC’s post by Heidi Beirich shows that Allen paid dues to the alliance in 2003 and attended its “Holocaust Revisionist Conference” in 2007. The National Alliance states on its website that: “We believe that no multi-racial society can be a truly healthy society, and no government which is not wholly responsible to a single racial entity can be a good government. America’s present deterioration stems from her loss of racial homogeneity and racial consciousness, and from the consequent alienation of most of our fellow citizens.”
In 2014 and 2015, Allen made five separate donations to the American Eagle Party, federal records uncovered by the SPLC show.
Allen retired from the law firm DLA Piper last year, and was hired by the Baltimore city law department on a one-year contract in February, city officials said. Upon learning of his background, Mayor Rawlings-Blake ordered that Allen’s contract be terminated Thursday. Her office released a statement which said that “Mr. Allen was fully vetted at the time of his hire — and of course had decades earlier been professionally and character tested upon his admission to the bar. None of the historical facts and alleged facts recently publicized about Mr. Allen’s political views and affiliations were disclosed or discussed when his contract was agreed to. The law department does not as a general practice question its hired or contract attorneys about their political views.”
The city had paid Allen $42,000 since his hiring, city officials told The Sun, and would pay him no more. The mayor’s statement added: “Mr. Allen regrets any embarrassment the public attention of the last 24 hours may have caused either the Solicitor or the Mayor, who had no involvement whatsoever in his recruitment and hiring.”
Allen was involved in defending Baltimore against a lawsuit filed by Sabein Burgess, who was freed from prison in 2014 after serving 19 years for a murder conviction from 1995. After the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project raised doubts about Burgess’s role in the case, a Baltimore judge ordered a new trial and the state’s attorney dropped all charges against him. Burgess then sued the mayor, city council, police department and several involved police officers.
Nilson told The Sun on Thursday that Allen was not involved in the Freddie Gray case or any of the other police brutality cases cited in last week’s detailed criticisms of unfair racial practices of the Baltimore police by the U.S. Justice Department. A mayor’s spokesman said the Burgess case was the only case Allen worked on.
Baltimore officials were outraged that Allen was on the city payroll. City Council President Bernard C. Young released a statement saying that “I am angry that someone who allegedly harbors such disgusting views as Mr. Allen was allowed to work on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore. I am pleased that Mr. Allen’s contract with the City of Baltimore has been terminated. Moving forward, each department and city agency should conduct an internal review of their hiring practices.”
Allen said Friday: “I did not disagree with the conclusion that I should leave. It was very professionally done.” He said he was a longtime friend of Nilson, that they had worked together at the Piper law firm, and that he had worked as a lawyer in Baltimore for 27 years without incident. “My dues-paying [to the National Alliance] was many years ago. What connections I had, I kept to myself.” He said he had represented for free a black sheriff’s deputy who had shot and killed a white man and “did the best I could for him.”
While he denied any beliefs in white supremacy — “Just look at the Olympics, that’s ridiculous,” Allen said — he did say that “I think it’s healthy to identify with your racial past, your ancestors. I don’t think that’s unique to Europeans, or Japanese, or Africans. I do think there’s an amount of identity, pride in your race, that’s not permitted today. I also understand it can be obnoxious and create violence, and that’s not acceptable.”
Allen called the Southern Poverty Law Center “a pretty disgusting organization. They aren’t what they claim to be. The logic of their practice is they’re trying to stop racism. In Baltimore, I was helping the city to win litigation and defending their lawsuits. I think they have a vendetta against people whose views are on their target list.” He said Beirich “has a big salary to do nothing else but to make life miserable for people with non-conforming opinions.”
He said Merlin Miller, head of the American Eagle Party and criticized by the SPLC, “is an upstanding, fair-haired graduate of West Point,” and that Miller withdrew from the American Freedom Party for its racial views. “Miller’s not racist. The AEP is not racist at all.”
Beirich responded Friday that the SPLC “is dedicated to battling extremism in the mainstream, whatever form it takes. So when we see a person with a track record of literally the most dangerous racism of the last 50 years, we’re not going to let that stand if we can do anything about it. This is neo-Nazism. This is Holocaust denial. These are the worst ideas ever created.”
Beirich noted that Allen was cited in an ongoing estate dispute in Canada in 2013, in which a National Alliance member had tried to bequeath his estate to the group, as playing a role in trying to transfer the estate to the alliance, though he is not a lawyer or party to the case. A National Alliance-related website said in June 2016 that Allen had loaned $11,000 to the estate’s executor in 2006 to have it appraised, Beirich pointed out, and that Allen was described as the alliance’s attorney as recently as 2007.