Mr. Henson is a veteran political consultant renowned (and loathed by some) for ruthless tactics and bending the rules to win. Ms. Alston served just two years in the House of Delegates, representing a part of Prince George’s County, before running afoul of the law and being forced to resign. Each was convicted of criminal charges in 2012 — Mr. Henson in a case involving the suppression of African American votes, Ms. Alston for theft. Both argued, unconvincingly, that the cases against them were politically motivated.
The judge in Mr. Henson’s case put him on probation, issuing a blanket order that he not be involved “in any capacity” in political campaigns for the duration. The judge in Ms. Alston’s case, annoyed at her attempt to deflect blame, said her actions — including using state funds to pay an employee of her law firm and diverting campaign money to cover her wedding expenses — suggested “incredible arrogance on your part.”
Now, having scarcely skipped a beat, they’re back, running in the June Democratic primary — Mr. Henson for a state Senate seat in Baltimore, Ms. Alston for her old delegate seat.
It’s hard to say which of them has displayed more gall, although the judge in Mr. Henson’s case, Emanuel Brown of the Baltimore Circuit Court, left little doubt that the former political consultant has the inside track. After all, Mr. Henson mounted his candidacy while still on probation under terms that barred him from campaign activity “in any capacity.” Mr. Brown, barely disguising his indignation, sentenced him to an additional four months in jail but suspended the sentence pending appeal. At the same time, the judge declared that Mr. Henson’s probationary period was over, thereby clearing the way for his candidacy. (Of course, Mr. Henson may have a hard time mounting an effective campaign, should he land in jail before the June 24 primary.)
Meanwhile, Ms. Alston, having been convicted for bilking the state once, showed up just minutes before last Tuesday’s filing deadline to register her candidacy — minus $500 in late fees she owed the state for failing to file campaign finance reports on time for her still-extant campaign committee. Election officials ultimately waived the fines.
At this point, both Mr. Henson and Ms. Alston have paid their debt to society and are clear to run for office. That doesn’t mean voters should be expected to embrace them. A little memory should go a long way toward putting their electoral ambitions to rest.