The Maryland House chamber on Wednesday voted unanimously to reprimand Delegate Jay Jalisi, D-Baltimore County, following the recommendations of a joint ethics committee that compiled reports of abusive behavior against his staff for the past four years.
Jalisi was accused of bullying staff members, received warnings and was counseled by Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, multiple times, according to the report, released Monday.
Jalisi was not present on the chamber floor at the time of the 136 to 0 vote for House resolution 2, but said in a statement this week that he is the victim of a political smear campaign.
The report details multiple occasions of Jalisi berating his staff. Persons testified that in 2015, Jalisi told a staff member to work around 100 extra hours of overtime without timesheets to prove it, and in 2017, that he yelled at staffer so loudly a person in a different office called human resources, according to the report.
Following a 2017 incident when Jalisi reportedly berated a staff member for “killing” one of his bills, the ethics committee recommended he attend anger management and workplace civility programs, and against him having paid staff if he failed to complete them, according to the report.
As of this year, Jalisi has yet to take the programs, and has hired staff unpaid by the General Assembly, according to the report.
Jalisi did not return attempts from human resources staff to contact him when told he was not allowed to have “regular employees, contractual employees, interns, or pages,” according to the report.
The report recommended the House reprimand Jalisi, bar state payment and credentials for staff until completion of anger management and civility programs, and keep the lawmaker off of committee assignments if he does not finish said programs before the 2020 legislative session.
Jalisi denied the allegations and claimed the report was a “political hit job,” in a statement released Monday.
“Over the past few months I have been the target of a nasty smear campaign and a sham investigation by a powerful lobby in Annapolis,” Jalisi wrote.
There was no opportunity to investigate and respond to the complaints, with only one day to read the allegations before the ethics committee hearing, Jalisi wrote.
“It makes no sense for the Ethics Committee to defund my staff’s payroll,” Jalisi wrote. “How does not paying my staff help them or anyone?!!”
Delegate Samuel Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, House chair of the joint ethics committee, announced the resolution to the floor on Wednesday.
“We do not tolerate this behavior,” Rosenberg said to the chamber. “(Jalisi) ignored advice … and attempts to help him change his conduct.”
Rosenberg said 38 interviews, sworn testimony from 18 individuals and documents were reviewed by the committee during an investigation that began on Feb. 5.
Jalisi had adequate due process and opportunity to present himself at a committee meeting last weekend, Rosenberg said.
The reprimand vote follows the censure earlier this session of Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti, D-Harford, after allegations she used a racial slur to describe an area of Prince George’s County.
A reprimand is not as severe as a censure, which is not as significant a punishment as expulsion from the legislature.