Means sought to oust Howard sheriff
Executive searches for way to remove Fitzgerald in wake of multiple complaints
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman pressed his county’s embattled sheriff again Monday to resign, and said he’s exploring legal options to force the sheriff out.
Sheriff James Fitzgerald has been accused of using racist and offensive language, discriminating against employees and retaliating against those who did not support his re-election bid.
The allegations were outlined in a report by the county Office of Human Rights made public last month. The office investigated a complaint filed last year by a lieutenant in the sheriff’s office who has since resigned.
Fitzgerald, a Democrat, told human rights investigators he had not done anything wrong and is simply a “loud New Yorker.” At a news conference late last month, he apologized for the atmosphere caused by the report but did not address any of the allegations. He has otherwise declined to comment.
More than two dozen current and former elected officials have called on Fitzgerald to resign. Lawmakers from Howard County are researching whether the General Assembly could impeach him. Fitzgerald
“I certainly would hope he’d realize there’s not one elected official in Howard County — Republican or Democrat — not one community leader I know who has said he should stay,” Kittleman, a Republican, said Monday.
Representatives with a public relations firm hired by Fitzgerald did not respond to a request for comment Monday. A message left at the sheriff’s office was not returned. Most government offices were closed for the Columbus Day holiday.
The Maryland Constitution allows for the removal of elected officials who are convicted of a felony, or of a misdemeanor related to their conduct in office that carries the possibility of jail time. Fitzgerald has not been charged with a crime.
Kittleman said he’s asking the county’s law office to investigate other ways of forcing out Fitzgerald.
He said the county could join a lawsuit filed by Fitzgerald’s last election opponent, who says the sheriff never took the oath of office as required and doesn’t maintain a permanent residence in the county. That lawsuit is pending in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
Kittleman said he was open to other options.
“There may be other things out there that we’re not aware of,” he said.
Fitzgerald is in his third term as Howard County sheriff. He previously was a county police officer.
In Howard County, the sheriff’s office is not the primary law enforcement agency. The office provides courthouse security, serves warrants, transports prisoners and handles landlord-tenant issues.