ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Embattled Harford County Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford County) has offered shifting explanations over her use of a racial slur, and that angers a fellow lawmaker who said he heard her call the area he represents in Prince George’s County an “N-word district” while at an after-hours gathering in Annapolis in January.
After her censure by the House, Delegate Lisanti told reporters Thursday she never used the slur but “took responsibility for the said action.” She also said there was “no independent verification.”
“It is apparent that some in attendance overheard or thought they overheard an inappropriate word,“ the lawmaker said.
Delegate Jay Walker told WJZ on Friday there is no question what he heard.
“She says it was alleged,” Walker said. “It wasn’t alleged. I was there. It wasn’t alleged. She needs to apologize.”
Delegate Darryl Barnes, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus called Lisanti’s explanation “another case of denial.”
He said she admitted using the word while meeting with the Caucus.
“To me, she is saying the delegates who were in the room are all liars, and that is unacceptable,” Barnes said. “She was not remorseful, and she had such a cavalier attitude.”
He also compared her to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who first admitted he was in an old yearbook photograph wearing blackface and then claimed the photo on his yearbook page was not of him.
Dea Galloway, a constituent in Harford County, said she voted for Lisanti several times—and the revelations about the slur were painful.
“This is what we’re dealing with in 2019,” the veteran and mother said.
Bob Ross — head of the Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP — told reporters Friday, “This is a code that is passed around to try to get us back on the plantation… We want her to resign to send a clear message.”
The censure Thursday was a formal repudiation of Delegate Lisanti’s conduct. The next step would be expulsion.
A Maryland Senate ethics committee will take up Lisanti’s remarks on Monday.
The lawmaker has already been stripped of her leadership roles.
“I am a Christian,“ Lisanti said. “In every bad thing, there is a light, and there is a beautiful light at the end of this.“
She said she will not leave her seat because she believes no one else will be appointed to represent her district this session if she does so.
The NAACP joined black lawmakers Friday in calling for Del. Mary Ann Lisanti to step down. They criticized her for failing to take responsibility for saying the slur last month at a gathering with fellow lawmakers.
The House of Delegates voted 137-0 Thursday to censure Lisanti. In a statement after the vote, she expressed uncertainty about whether she actually said the word, referring to the incident as “alleged.” She also told reporters she would not resign.
Del. Darryl Barnes, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, says Lisanti’s comments after the censure only brought him “more concerns.”
Lisanti didn’t attend session in the House Friday.
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