ANNAPOLIS Sign on to the Internet website comicscommando.com and you’ll find more than a call to “Dump Parris” Glendening, the governor of Maryland.
Laurel resident John Marion, a Republican, has expanded his site from its mission during the 1998 election season to get rid of the Democratic governor. Now the site aims to provide a forum on some of the thorniest issues in state government.
Comicscommando.com claims to be dedicated to exposing political corruption and providing honest, open discussion on issues like gun control, abortion and why Glendening should be removed from office. The Maryland Report section provides viewers with updates on ethics reform bills under debate, with allegations of corruption intertwined.
During the last election period, Marion said the website recorded about 200 visitors per day. At other times, the site has gotten about 30 hits daily.
“We built up some kind of clientele out there that (was) visiting the site regularly,” Marion said. “They wanted to see what we had to say. Our goal was to package information in a way that was user-friendly.”
Sometimes described as a “political commando,” Marion said that nickname is true only in the sense that he’s open about his views.
“I’m not interested in protecting any kind of a future political ambition, so I think I can be a little bit more honest than the people who may run for office,” he said. “I don’t care about that, I care about the truth.”
The minority GOP needs to be more vocal in the Democrat-run legislature, Marion said.
“We really have a one-party system in Maryland,” he said. “It’s really created a system where there’s a lot of political corruption. I think it would be in any system (where there’s a strong majority), it just happens now to be with Democrats.”
Marion calls his website a “conduit of information” that relies on his contacts with those in the political realm for reports and updates on political issues.
One of these contacts is former state Delegate John S. Morgan, R-Prince George’s, who writes about ethics reform on comicscommando.com.
Morgan, who lost the 1998 election to Delegate John A. Giannetti Jr., R-Prince George’s, said he met Marion through the Northern Prince George’s Republican Club. Marion sent out an e- mail to members about his website activities and looking for political articles to post.
Morgan responded because he said “certain people in (Maryland) leadership” wanted to weaken ethics reform legislation. In response he recounted his experiences with past attempts at ethics reform and how Assembly members cowered at increased ethics restrictions.
Morgan’s “The Need for Real Ethics Reform,” posted on the Maryland Report, argues that the Assembly ought to stop whining and pass the bills in their original form. Morgan served on the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics from 1995 to 1998.
“It should be enacted as reported to the General Assembly,” Morgan said. “Both the speaker and the Senate president originally said they would support it without amendments. I don’t think the people expect the proposal to be watered down.”
Morgan calls lawmakers the “Chicken Little crowd,” and says ethics reform “already has some legislators hiding under their desks in anticipation of the sky’s imminent collapse.”
U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., a former state delegate, drafted House Bill 1, which outlines new guidelines for lawmakers regarding accepting gifts and meals from lobbyists, voting on matters involving “direct and personal” conflicts of interest and what types of jobs they can take after being elected into a state office.
Morgan said the fact that the proposals were drafted by Cardin should be enough for lawmakers to put their personal interests aside and listen to his suggestions.
“To reject a proposal by Ben Cardin would be … tantamount to not doing anything,” Morgan said. “We’ll be like all the Larry Youngs in the world.”
Former Sen. Larry Young, D-Baltimore, and former Delegate Gerald Curran, D-Baltimore, left Annapolis after ethical controversies last year. The Senate expelled Young after concluding he used his public office for private gain and Curran resigned as an investigation was launched to look into whether he used his office to benefit his insurance business. Bills under debate are designed to curb violations such as these and to close some ethics loopholes.