Incident Shoves Impallaria into Spotlight
Tim Craig and Lori Montgomery, Wash. Post, Mar. 25
Del. Richard K. Impallaria (R) says that his well-publicized confrontation last week with several lobbyists for immigrants’ concerns was a boost for his political career. Well, in his conservative, eastern Baltimore County district, at least.
“They love us. They are telling us to keep up the good work,” Impallaria said, adding that he has received dozens of e-mails in the past week. “The biggest thing I hear is we have too many politically correct lawmakers and not enough politically courageous ones.”
Impallaria and Del. Patrick L. McDonough (R-Baltimore County) confronted four lobbyists for immigrants’ issues last week after a House of Delegates hearing on a bill to study the fiscal impact of illegal immigration.
The delegates said the advocates referred to them as “racists” during testimony on the measure.
After following them into the hallway of the Lowe House Office Building, Impallaria asked a Hispanic advocate whether she was an illegal immigrant. The lobbyist, Natali Fani of Casa De Maryland, refused to answer.
Jamie Kendrick, executive director of the Service Employees International Union Maryland-D.C. state council, then came to Fani’s defense, and McDonough shoved him. Kendrick said McDonough attacked him. McDonough said he was just defending himself from the union leader.
An Anne Arundel County District Court judge is looking into the matter to determine whether a criminal investigation should be launched. The House Ethics Committee could also launch an investigation.
Impallaria is not worried. He said constituents have showered him with praise since the incident.
Impallaria and McDonough represent the 7th Legislative District, which includes the blue-collar communities of Middle River, Joppa and Perry Hall. Those voters support attempts to crack down on illegal immigration, Impallaria said.
Several constituents started a legal defense fund for the two delegates, who are leaders in efforts to limit illegal immigration. Impallaria quashed the idea before any money was raised because he said it violated campaign finance laws that prohibit delegates and senators from raising money while the General Assembly is in session.
“We had to step in and tell them to stop,” Impallaria said, adding that he will hold a news conference this week to discuss the scuffle.
Although Impallaria relishes the attention, McDonough is a bit nervous. “It scared me to death,” McDonough said after reading a newspaper account of the incident. “I’ll never punch another lobbyist again.”