Friday, January 29, 2010

Saqib Strikes Back!

Delegate Saqib Ali (D-39) has mounted a blistering counter-attack to Senator Nancy King's recent comments about him in the Gazette. We reprint his statement, "Fighting the Smears," from his blog.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fighting the Smears

Recently the Montgomery County Gazette Newspaper printed an article in which my State Senator, Nancy King made some unfounded personal attacks against me. You can read that article by clicking here. Below is my response. I expect the Gazette to print an abridged version of this response in their February 5th edition.

I was dismayed to read your recent article about me in which unnamed sources and rival politicians questioned the ethics of my campaign activities. This article was nothing more than baseless charges, political innuendo and anonymous smears. I owe it to your readers to set the record straight.

During my recent listening tour I was consumed with listening to the people of District 39 to gauge what issues they cared about at the onset of this year's legislative session. The state budget is in crisis and the budgets of our households are similarly strained. Every evening I heard from individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. Many had lost their jobs or been furloughed. These were real problems that we in the legislature have a responsibility to address -- not contrived political issues. I held my listening tour to give voice to these every-day struggles. Our idea to hold the raffles mentioned in Allan Brody's article was an afterthought that the Legislative Ethics Council Bill Sommerville had cleared. On December 22, he wrote: "It is my opinion that this presents no problems as a matter of legislative ethics". Still, we ended up eliminating them for unrelated logistical reasons. Unfortunately recent political chatter about this non-issue has distracted attention from the pressing concerns of my community.

The article also carried water for critics who claimed outrage that I recommended a low interest credit card from a non-profit Federal Credit Union on a local blog. Of course there was no personal gain in it for me. I was merely helping constituents escape usurious credit card APRs of 30%. It is remarkable that in these trying economic times some would see fit to criticize my efforts to save money for constituents. I've always considered saving my constituents money to be part of my job.

Formal ethics complaints are always handled by the state Legislative Ethics Commission. This commission has never issued any finding regarding me. However, when smear-peddlers know they have no leg to stand on, they are forced instead to rely on media to get their message out. The truth is that the "ethical questions" the Gazette reported are actually nothing more than a unfounded political accusations that are ridiculous on their face. It is unfortunate that the Gazette has given these accusations any credence at all.

Let me be clear: I have done nothing illegal, unethical or even slightly untoward. These accusations by political opponents are utterly without merit.

I am working very hard to do the business of the people of Maryland. I've introduced bills in the State Legislature to increase legislative transparency, fight against abusive credit card companies and increase road safety. I also continue to seek constructive input and advice from my constituents. For this State Senator Nancy King has launched over-the-top personal attacks on me calling me "crazed" & "desparate". It is unhelpful and unbecoming.

I respect Nancy's service to our community. But she would do well to remember that the seats we occupy in the State Legislature do not belong to me or to her. They belong to the voters. So instead of lobbing nasty personal barbs, lets all roll up our sleeves to solve the problems that Marylanders have sent us to Annapolis to work on.
posted by Saqib Ali at 3:04 PM