Monday, August 23, 2010

Ali Responds to King Attack Site

District 39 challenger Saqib Ali has responded to the attack website set up by Senator Nancy King. Following is his statement.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 23, 2010
Contact: Ben Shnider, (240) 242-9451,

Statement from Delegate Saqib Ali in Response to Nancy King’s New Personal Attack Website

It is regrettable that Nancy King has elected to launch a website entirely dedicated to attacking me personally. Unfortunately this is a trend that I have been dealing with for nearly one year now. While I continue to speak about Democratic values and serious issues, I have been the subject of a vicious campaign of personal character assassination. In January, Nancy King publicly called me “crazed” and “desperate” and made frivolous ethics allegations against me. Now she has released an out-of-context photo of me falsely claiming that I was sleeping on the job. This kind of old-school politics must stop. Fair-minded residents of District 39 will recognize these smears as a desperate and undignified attempt by a politician to save her job. Below is a point-by-point rebuttal of Nancy’s smears.

Nancy King’s Smear: I slept through a vote.

The Truth: This undated photo was not taken during the budget amendment on April 1, 2010 as Nancy claims, nor was it taken during any legislative proceedings. Nancy knows this. That’s why she didn’t provide any independent verification of when the photo was taken (such as a contemporaneous media report). I could very easily take a photo of any elected official playing golf or vacationing and claim it was a picture of them playing hooky, but it would be a dishonorable thing to do. And I wouldn’t do it.

It is well known in Annapolis that I am one of the last ones to leave the State House Building at night. I often work well past midnight answering constituent emails and drafting legislation. Due to these late nights I sometimes come to the floor of the House of Delegates a few minutes early and rest in the legislators’ private lounge. This photo must have been taken during one of those instances before legislative work for the day began.

I emphatically deny that I have ever slept through any legislative proceedings. If Nancy has any counter-evidence from an independent source I challenge her to provide it. The snapshot of my Twitter feed that Nancy provides supposedly corroborating this photo was posted on January 27, not April 1, and did not refer to me sleeping during legislative proceedings. It corroborates nothing.

Nancy King’s Smear: I missed votes.

The Truth: The bulk of the votes that Nancy asserts I “missed” were regarding bills being pushed by the alcohol and gambling industries. I have consistently maintained that these powerful interests have too much power in Annapolis. Therefore, I consistently abstain from voting on their issues to draw attention to the stranglehold that alcohol and gambling lobbyists have on legislators. An abstention is equivalent to a “No” vote. This is a principled stand I have taken.

Meanwhile, Nancy herself has taken $6,750 from alcohol and gambling interests in the most recent campaign finance reporting cycle alone and continues to vote in lockstep with these industries on every piece of legislation that they advocate.

Nancy King’s Smear: I cast the deciding vote for slots.

The Truth: Nancy’s assertion that I was the deciding vote in favor of slots is patently false. In 2006, I promised to oppose the introduction of slot machines to Maryland. Once elected, despite extreme political pressure from within the halls of Annapolis, I stood by my word and voted against this proposal. Click here to see the slots bill and my recorded vote against it. The irony of this claim is that Nancy has taken at least $8,500 from gambling mogul William Rickman, Jr. through the notorious “LLC Looophole” and voted in lockstep with the gambling industry for years. How can one of the most pro-gambling legislators credibly criticize me for such a spurious claim?

In addition, the quote that Nancy King references was from Minor Carter, a registered lobbyist, whose company’s clients include Big Oil and Big Banking.

Nancy King’s Smear: I broke my promise not to accept PAC money.

The Truth: During my 2006 campaign for state delegate I promised not take funding from PAC’s and I kept that promise. While I have not made a similar pledge during this campaign, I am proud that 77% of my funding comes from ordinary people, while only 24% of Nancy King’s funding is contributed by individuals (Source: Maryland Board of Elections). In fact, 69% of Nancy King’s campaign funding comes from PAC’s and business interests.

Nancy King’s Smear: I am not an effective legislator and cannot pass bills.

The Truth: Nancy’s tally of the bills that I have passed is untruthful. For example, Nancy says that I passed no bills in 2009. However, a simple Google search shows that I passed the WSSC - Audit and Financial Statements Act in 2009. Nancy even voted for this very bill herself on three separate occasions. Nancy’s statistics concerning the bills I have passed are simply false, and are meant to deceive voters.

Furthermore, passing bills is not the only method of bringing about change in Annapolis. Many of the issues I choose to focus on, like closing corporate tax loopholes and raising the alcohol tax to provide needed care for the disabled, are big-picture issues. Fighting powerful special interests is not easy. Making progress on these thorny issues takes time and persistence. However, I will remain focused on scoring victories for every-day Marylanders, instead of running up superficial Annapolis tallies.

Finally, the same online poll that Nancy cites as proof of my ineffectiveness shows that I am the most effective freshman legislator. So which is it Nancy? Am I one of the most effective or least effective? You can’t just cherry-pick the data you want and ignore the data you don’t want.

Nancy King’s Smear: I improperly use social media

The Truth: I pride myself on not only being responsive and attentive to my constituents, but also developing personal relationships with them. I was one of the first legislators in Maryland to aggressively use social media as a vehicle to talk to my constituents. I am proud that I allow the people I represent to interact with me on a personal level and get to know me.

I am known for my playful sense of humor. Like most people I post personal snippets, wise-cracks, comments, and jokes on my Facebook profile. It is ridiculous that Nancy would suggest that my Facebook status updates make me unfit for public office. I encourage all who read this to add me as their Facebook friend to see for themselves. They can do so by clicking here.

Questions for Nancy

Voters are seeing this ugly spectacle because Nancy is trying very hard to distract them from her lackluster legislative record. She refuses to answer the following simple questions posed to her:

Why were you the only Board of Education Member to vote against common-sense sex education for MCPS students?

Why do you remain a member of an election committee that used money from tobacco behemoth Phillip Morris to fund a smear campaign against me?

Why did you lead the charge to extend corporate tax loopholes that prioritize corporations like Wal-Mart over every-day Marylanders?

Why did you chose the alcohol lobby over Mothers Against Drunk Driving when you voted to loosen restrictions on sugary, alcoholic beverages commonly consumed by teenagers?

Why did you vote against common-sense safety legislation to ban hand-held cell phone usage while driving?

I will continue to stand with the voters in seeking answers to these simple but important questions. Nancy may release more candid photos of me or childishly dig through my personal Facebook/Twitter logs to her heart’s content. But I will continue fighting to give District 39 residents a state senator who prioritizes their interests over special interests.