A report Sunday morning by Yvonne Wenger of The Baltimore Sun noted that charges were being filed against three men for the theft of campaign signs belonging to Baltimore County State Senator Jim Brochin. At the time, the county police had not released names, but only ages, of those charged. An update to the story by Carrie Wells later tonight indicated that one of the people arrested was Ronald Dejuliis, whose wife Connie is Brochin’s opponent in the Democratic Primary next month. The article mentions that Mr. DeJuliis is Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry but leaves out his history of working for labor unions and some of the past controversies surrounding him.
From the article on the charges:
Marc Lazerow, Brochin’s campaign manager, said he found Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry J. Ronald DeJuliis and two other men in the midst of tearing down four Brochin campaign signs near a busy intersection Saturday afternoon. Connie DeJuliis, DeJuliis’s wife and Brochin’s opponent in the Democratic primary, said Sunday her husband had permission from the owner of the property to put up her campaign signs and that her husband thought Brochin’s campaign signs had been placed there improperly.
Brochin’s response, from the article:
Brochin, who is running for reelection in a district that includes Towson, Hunt Valley and Hereford, said he thought the incident was “pretty sad.”
“Connie and I clearly have a difference of opinion on obeying the law,” he said. As for her husband, Brochin said, “He’s in the governor’s cabinet and he ought to know better.”
To nitpick Brochin, Ronald DeJuliis is not listed on the website showing O’Malley administration cabinet officials, although his boss is. However, he does work for a cabinet agency.
Connie DeJuliis also responded:
“I say it’s much ado about nothing,” Connie DeJuliis. “It was clearly a misunderstanding.”
Connie DeJuliis said the incident should not be considered a theft and she thought it was “somewhat silly” Brochin’s staff is pursuing charges.
“It’s been explained and rectified,” she said. “They chose to accelerate the situation to the point where they are cluttering up our court system with something that is clearly minor.”
The story in the Sun indicates that Brochin’s campaign manager, Lazerow, had a heated conversation with Ron DeJuliis when he happened upon the signs being removed and called 911. Lazerow filed the criminal complaint against DeJuliis and is planning to file complaints against the other two men, who were identified as campaign volunteers by Connie DeJuliis.
From the announcement of DeJuliis being appointed to his job (Thomas Perez is now an Obama administration official with some controversies of his own):
With almost 40 years experience in the labor industry, Ron DeJuliis has spent his career fighting for the working men and women of Maryland,” said Secretary Perez. “As Commissioner of Labor and Industry, he will be able to continue that fight and bring his expertise in labor concerns and safety issues to the forefront.”
The Commissioner recently served as president of the Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council affiliated with the AFL-CIO and as the business manager of Local 37 International Union of Operating Engineers.
This is not the first time Ron DeJuliis has appeared in the pages of a local newspaper regarding political and union controversy. Van Smith reported the following in 2006 for The City Paper:
DeJuliis is not the Local 37’s business manager anymore. An Aug. 3 letter from IUOE President Vince Giblin to members of Local 37 announces that DeJuliis resigned July 31 after the union local became the subject of a U.S. Labor Department investigation. Giblin states in the letter that the local’s “apparent focus on political activities to the detriment of other matters have been a concern for some time” and was “heightened earlier this year in light of reports of a physical altercation” at one of the local’s meetings. As a result, and because of the Labor Department probe, the letter notes, Local 37 was placed in under monitorship by the international union, which has hired an accounting firm to audit the local’s books.
In 1996, Connie DeJuliis ran against then-Congressman Bob Ehrlich. Multiple sources close to the Ehrhlich campaign then have noted that the Ehrlich campaign had an ongoing problem with campaign signs disappearing or being defaced with homophobic slurs. Additionally, these sources confirm that an Ehrlich campaign worker was threatened by a “union thug,”
One source close to the Ehrlich campaign in 1996 noted that a story appeared on local Baltimore TV news about a protest outside of Ehrlich campaign headquarters. The report apparently showed video footage captured by the Ehrlich campaign paying the protesters in that instance.
It will be interesting to see how the Martin O’Malley administration reacts to the questions they will likely be getting Monday on this issue. In addition to Ronald DeJuliis working in the administration, O’Malley has endorsed the primary campaign of Connie DeJuliis.
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore for 8 years. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
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