MD Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti under pressure to resign after alleged racist comments

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Mary Ann Lisanti
Maryland Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti. Image: US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Center (CC2.0)

Maryland Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti is under increasing pressure to resign following the allegation description of a historically black area in Prince George’s County using racist language.

Mary Ann Lisanti does not remember, but apologizes

Members of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus confronted Mary Ann Lisanti (Democrat – Har­ford County) on Monday evening amid reports that she had used racist terminology to describe the district of another delegate.

When speaking to fellow delegate Jay Walker at a cigar bar in Annapolis, Lisanti allegedly referred to an area in Prince George’s County as a “n—– district.”

Legislative Black Caucus chairman Delegate Darryl Barnes, who represents Prince George’s County, invited Lisanti to attend the meeting and take part in sensitivity training. Lisanti was described as contrite, but would not confirm that she made the statement.

“She apologized several times,” Barnes said. “She recognizes how she has hurt so many within the caucus, and she hoped to repent from this. She said that she doesn’t remember fully what happened, but she recognizes what happened.”

“I do think that someone who uses the word, it’s a reflection of what’s in their heart,” he continued.

The caucus issued a statement the next day calling Lisanti’s apology “woefully inadequate” and called for her to be removed from party leadership and formally censured.

Resignation from leadership, but not office

On Wednesday, Lisanti met with House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch to resign her position in the Democratic leadership and agree to take part in sensitivity training.

“I understand that this kind of language is not acceptable under any circumstance and I will do everything I can to regain the trust of my constituents and my colleagues,” she said in a statement to her constituents later the same day.

Despite her efforts to repair the damage, she is now facing calls for her resignation from increasingly prominent officials.

Yesterday, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings called on Lisanti to resign in a statement:

“African Americans comprise approximately a third of the voters in Lisanti’s district and they deserve to be represented by a person who is considerate of their views, a champion for their issues, respectful and appreciative of diverse people, and dedicated to cultivating an inclusive economy and democracy.”

Governor Larry Hogan, also a Democrat, issued a tweet yesterday with the same message:

“The language of racism and hate has no place in our public discourse. Any public official who engages in this reprehensible conduct should do the right thing and step down.”

Lisanti’s efforts to avoid an early end to her legislative career have been undercut by comments she made to the Washington Post earlier in February.

During an interview that took place before the story of her alleged remarks went public, she was asked if she had ever used the racial slur in question. She not only admitted she had, but equated its use with much less offensive language.

“I’m sure I have,” she said. “I’m sure everyone has used it. I’ve used the f-word. I used the Lord’s name in vain.

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