The stunning conclusion, now under appeal at a state ethics panel, was made by the Montgomery County Ethics Commission and signed by member Nina Weisbroth in a four-year-old dispute over an effort to hold a referendum on the county’s adoption of what’s become known as the “coed showers” bill.
The law provides “discrimination” protections for transgenders, and critics say it opens up virtually all of the county – from shower rooms to restrooms to other private areas – to anyone who states he or she is of a certain gender. For example, a man dressing as a woman would be allowed, under penalty of discrimination laws, into a women’s locker room, shower room or restroom.
Opponents set out to collect signatures on a petition to demand that the law be put to a vote of the people and later filed a complaint over one of the originators of the bill, county council member Duchy Trachtenberg’s assistant, Dana Beyer, a transgender.
According to a video of the incident, Beyer attempted to intimidate citizens collecting signatures that would put the law up to a vote.
The issue was presented to the county ethics board because of Beyer’s connections to authorities in the county and the alleged threats of retaliation against those who want to have people vote.
The ethics panel in the county, however, disregarded several statements, because the witnesses to the incident exhibited “palpable and unapologetic disdain for transgendered individuals.”
That, the ethics panel said, makes the testimony “not credible.”
“The commission found Mr. Schall’s testimony, as well as Verlon Mason’s audiotape and affidavit, unpersuasive. Mr. Mason’s use of the derogatory term ‘shim’ when referring to Dr. Beyer, evidences a bias against transgendered individuals. Similarly, Mr. Schall displayed a palpable and unapologetic disdain for transgendered individuals which, in the commission’s judgment, makes his testimony not credible.”
Schall said in his testimony he was with other volunteers collecting signatures for the petition when Beyer “began calling him a homophobe and a bigot” and that “dissuaded shoppers from signing the petition.”
“He gave me his name and told me that he was a woman and that he had a license that proved he was a woman,” the statement said.
The commission was outraged.
“Throughout his testimony Mr. Schall repeatedly referred to Dr. Beyer with the male pronouns ‘he’ or ‘him.’ … He testified, ‘I have no idea what Dr. Beyer is,’” the commission said.
Likewise, Mason said in a recorded testimony, “The shim did mention working for the [county] council … [and] the county council would be unhappy with us endorsing the petitioners.’”
Other testimony came from local police who said they responded to a trespass complaint from the store where the signatures, with permission, were being collected. Officers said they told Beyer to leave the store. Store assistant manager Aaron Williams told of complaints from the petition signature collectors of verbal threats from Beyer and others.
“He testified be believed Dr. Beyer said that she was ‘going to contact someone from the county government and that we would hear back from them because what we were doing [allowing the first group to remain at the Giant] was wrong,’” the commission decision said.
The commission dismissed entirely the complaint that stemmed from the altercation caught on video:.
In the video, Beyer, a senior aide to Trachtenberg, and a member of Hillary Clinton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Steering Committee, is seen via cell phone video telling petition collectors and would-be signers they would be asked to leave the food store’s location.
The new complaint, now going to the State Ethics Commission, is a request from Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government, which has been battling the bathroom bill, for an investigation into the “multiple violations of the Maryland Public Ethics Law by the county ethics commission.”
“The county commission dismissed MCRG’s complaint against Beyer, citing its belief that the complainant’s witnesses were not persuasive because they did not use what the commission personally deemed to be the proper pronouns in reference to Beyer, a transgender woman,” the state complaint said.
“Accordingly, the county commission’s decision was not issued on written findings of fact and conclusions of law based on the record as required by Sec. 19A-10(i) of the Montgomery County Ethics Code, but on the commission’s own preferred pronoun usage. The county’s public ethics law does not reference the proper use of pronouns. Hence, the commission failed to implement the ethics law as written.”
The focus, the complaint explains, should be on the ethics statement: “A public employee must not intimidate, threaten, coerce or discriminate against any person
for the purpose of interfering with that person’s freedom to engage in political activity.”
Dr. Ruth Jacobs, president of the MCRG, told WND her organization first had appealed to the county ethics board for a rehearing before taking the dispute to the state.
The MCRG said the newly adopted ruling from the county board “could enable any Montgomery County public employee ‘off the clock’ to harass and intimidate citizens engaging in political activity.”
The MCRG also noted that the ethics commission took the intimidation ban – “a public employee must not intimidate, threaten, coerce or discrimination” – and arbitrarily added the words “as a function of being on the job.” The complaint asserted that the additional language opens a door for public employees to intimidate under many circumstances.
Jacobs said, “The Montgomery County Ethics Commission ignored transcripts of 911 calls, a video, and numerous affidavits detailing the harassment; it suddenly revised the law on its own initiative and without any authority to do so in its problem riddled ruling.
“The ethics commission also rejected key testimony of witnesses simply because they used pronouns which reflected Beyer’s own gender confusion. If the commission wasn’t acting out of personal bias, why should it question the truthfulness of everyday Americans who were simply being honest about gender?”
The “bathroom” bill eventually became law despite the request for a referendum by Montgomery County residents, who wanted a vote on it. Beyer almost immediately brought a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the county under the law, but it eventually was dropped.
A year ago, the state Senate rejected a proposal that would have created coed showers in public facilities in the state.