BG Health Summit - KM (copy)

State Delegate Karen Lewis Young outlines legislation proposed in Annapolis to address the heroin and opioid epidemic at a health care town hall in October 2017.

A former employee of Delegate Karen Lewis Young made public this week an ethics complaint against the first-term state representative.

Former Legislative Director April Clemons asserted in a now-public Facebook post that Lewis Young instructed staff to do campaign work during the 2018 General Assembly session and exhibited abusive behavior, which created a “toxic and hostile work environment.”

Lewis Young, a Democrat representing District 3A in Frederick County, denies the allegations.

Clemons, 36, worked for Lewis Young between November 2017 and mid-March 2018. She reported her complaint to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services on Tuesday and announced it on Facebook the same day under the pseudonym “April Lemons,” which she uses to protect herself and family from online threats, she said.

“She had been warned. It’s just some people don’t want to hear the truth,” Clemons said in a phone interview with The Frederick News-Post on Friday.

Clemons said she didn’t connect her decision to report Lewis Young on Tuesday with the start of early voting on Thursday or the Nov. 6 election.

“There was this really big gap because I had to be sure I could secure employment. ... Honestly, I didn’t put the two together,” said Clemons, a mother of four from Frederick.

Clemons said she reported Lewis Young to the Department of Legislative Services. But because all matters before the ethics committee are confidential under General Provision 5517, the office will not confirm or deny the existence of any complaints, said Ethics Counsel Dea Daley.

Lewis Young said on Friday she was not notified by the Department of Legislative Services of any complaints, but the timing of the complaint was suspicious — seven months after Clemons resigned and just a few days before the beginning of early voting.

“I have received dozens of calls from people rushing to my support who find the timing inordinately consequential,” Lewis Young said.

Clemons alleges that during her four-month employment in Lewis Young’s office, she and others were instructed to work on Lewis Young’s campaign website, arrange advertisements and answer campaign questionnaires. One such questionnaire was sent to the delegate by the League of Women Voters, which Lewis Young instructed the staff’s intern and volunteer to fill out, Clemons alleged.

Lewis Young said that did not happen.

“I specifically remember that one because you’re only allowed so many words, so I played with the words to see how much substance I can get out of them,” said Lewis Young.

An email shows the League of Women Voters of Frederick County sent the questionnaire on March 12. Clemons resigned two days later, on March 14, Lewis Young said.

Benjamin Reese, 22, was Lewis Young’s intern during the 2018 session and was hired as her legislative director after he graduated from Hood College this past spring.

He said on Friday that he did not remember completing questionnaires on Lewis Young’s behalf, but he did recall her commenting that she was up late, or would be up late, completing them. Reese’s responsibilities focused on making the delegate’s schedule and doing research on legislation.

He said he also did not work on her campaign until after the completion of his internship.

Lewis Young said she has three rules for any staff member who wants to volunteer for her campaign:

  • Not in the office.
  • Not on state time.
  • Not on state equipment.

She acknowledged that Clemons worked “minimally” for her campaign on a volunteer basis. She said she could only remember asking her to print a finance report at her home one weekend.

But at least one other former staff member is concerned there is a pattern of abuse by Lewis Young. Robert Van Rens, 44, took over Clemons’ role after she quit in mid-March. Van Rens moved from the office of Lewis-Young’s husband, Sen. Ron Young (D-District 3), to Lewis Young’s office in the middle of the legislative session.

“It was fraught with difficulty,” Van Rens said. “She regularly would decide to do something or specify, ‘I want you to go do this thing,’ and two days later ask, ‘Why did you do this?’”

Both also said Lewis Young would text them late on weekends and be “furious” when tasks hadn’t been completed.

Originally, Van Rens took over Clemons’ role in Young’s office in November 2017 when she moved to Lewis Young’s office. Their children were also friends and they carpooled while Clemons worked for Lewis Young, he said.

Van Rens is considering filing his own ethics complaint against Lewis Young, who he alleges kept him on staff four weeks longer than was contractually agreed upon when he moved to her office. He has since returned to Sen. Young’s office.

He has also already made himself available to the Department of Legislative Services in support of Clemons’ complaint.

Lewis Young is running for one of two seats in District 3A against Democrat Delegate Carol Krimm, Republican James Dvorak, Republican Mike Bowersox and Libertarian Jeremy Harbaugh. There are no term limits, and the annual salary for a delegate is $50,330.

“I’m confident that the voters will judge me on my record and not an eleventh-hour attack from my opponent,” Lewis Young said.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(32) comments

The Grape of Wrath

If true, these allegations would be by far the mildest examples of ethical gaps demonstrated by the Young clan for over a decade. As one poster said, it's time for the Youngs to just fade to black.

magnumrn2

Why would a legitimate reporter publish a disgruntled former employee's complaint just before an election? Learn your job before you report because you have a responsibility for fairness. You are legitimate, right?

Hardballlaw

I am saddened and disheartened by the public rush to judgment of our elected officials. Like Cavanaugh, these allegations arise in a time frame that does not allow the candidate to respond to any allegations. They are leveled during the early voting period, with citizens denied the opportunity to thoroughly vet their credibility. The candidate AND the complainants are actually not permitted to discuss any alleged filings publicly, so Ms Clemons or Lemons, has breached that duty. Delegate Lewis-Young has no opportunity to address the allegations until long after the votes are counted. As far as I’m concerned, Delegate Lewis-Young, like Cavanaugh, is cloaked with the presumption of innocence and the timing and public publication of these complaints certainly raise an appearance of impropriety.

davidlewis

I was the volunteer, and I was never asked to do anything unethical such as work on a campaign website or any other campaign assignments during my time in Annapolis. That is simply not true so I want to point that out.

I would also like to say that April Clemons was demeaning, verbally abusive, and put me down every single week. If I made a mistake she was relentless. It was a hostile work environment when Delegate Lewis Young was not in the office. When she WAS in the office, April Clemons put a smile on and was a completely different person. April, if you are reading this, you know this is a lie. You are lying, I don't know why you are lying but you are.

I don't know why Rob is making his claims, and I disagree with them, but he has every right to. He has made false allegations against me to the Delegate before but I still hold no ill will towards the man.

The bottom line really is, I know the Delegate and I know this is not true. I worked next to April Clemons for three months. This is a fabricated attack, and it is sickening.

Nicki

Thank you, David, for your input.
I, for one, am grateful to Ron and Karen for their years of service. You have to be pretty tough to put up with the crap that gets piled on like many of the clueless commenters in this post.

girlpolitic

She is the former squeeze of Roy Meachum. What does that tell u.

girlpolitic

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KellyAlzan

Anything over 50

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CDReid

How old do you think is too old for someone to be in a bar, Kelly?

Business Owner

All of the Youngs need to leave public office -- The Family Von Dysfunctional need to sing "Edelweiss" and go hide in a monastery. If I see you, I won't use my whistle. Just please go....please.

pappyjoe

Another Younger on board with the famous toast quote: I for I and I for all, Youngers only[smile]

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mgoose806

You think Karen knows about Ron's bartender friend?

mr_twist27

I had several dealings with Karen Young when she was a City alderman. She came across as having a cold personality so these allegations are not very surprising to me.

jerseygrl42

Lewis seems to be more concerned with timing than substance of the complaint...this enlarged family seems to have difficulty following rules and the law....and its now two people with concerns who have come forward...thats two more than the woman who tried to frame the new supreme court justice had

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Nicki

Tit with his baseless accusations... tiring.

DickD

Hard to say who is right and who is wrong here. I have worked as a volunteer and I did it because I wanted to. If asked to print something, I would gladly printed it - given the equipment and ability.

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Dwasserba

Hmmm Have not met this Karen. And Hillary was an accomplished lawysr in her own right.

Burgessdr

Took 7 months to file a compaint? In the meantime continued to work for Ron. Smells fishy.

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CDReid

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] businessowner!

smoo87

I have known Delegate Young for many years and know her to be a fair and hard-working public servant. I have had conversations with her when she is answering these questionnaires, and I have known her to do them herself. I know that if she has a question on them that she needs more background on, she reaches out to people who have technical expertise on the subject. I also heard through a mutual friend that Ms. Clemons really enjoyed working for Delegate Young. I do not know Ms. Clemons, but it seems obvious that she is trying to influence the election.

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stjohn42

Maybe, but being a difficult boss does not mean you deserve a bogus ethics complaint. On its face, it looks like she got mad and tried to create an ethics issue when she should have just gone with the truth. Sliding this out just as early voting starts just smells.

CDReid

Touche Titanman! [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

GrumbleJones

Voters should make both Youngs old news and send these career politicians packing on election day. Buh-bye.

KellyAlzan

Karen’s only defense is the timing? Welcome to politics, honey.

ryoung6446

Replying to this puts me in a very precarious position. Not having been in the office I have no idea what transpired. I do know that Rob Van Rens claim of having been required to stay at Delegate Lewis Young's office beyond his will is not true. When. April resigned without notice on March 14th. I took April back in my office and Rob agreed to finish the session in the Delegates office. It was later agreed by all parties that April and Rob would stay where they were until early May. At that point Rob would return to my office and April would leave. Rob could have come back at any time but he willing agreed to stay which worked well for both him and April.

Titanman123

Even in this explanation it’s clear Ron and Karen view staffers as expendable and movable between their offices. Your employees have rights too!

stjohn42

I am not sure that "expendable" and "willing do the same job in the next office over" mean the same thing. You should probably check on that.

Nicki

[thumbup] stjohn!

Nobis

I, for one, have no reason to question Ron's recollection of what transpired and appreciate his willingness to engage readers. I find the timing of these allegations suspicious enough to warrant public scrutiny at the very least. I have to disagree with the assertion that the Ron and Karen find their staff expendable. In fact, it appears to be just the opposite. I question the competency and honesty of Ms. Clemons due to her conduct surrounding this complaint and her professionalism regarding her abrupt resignation. It appears she is overwhelmed by her responsibilities and perhaps is operating out of spite or for personal benefit. However, regardless of my opinion, the complaint will be investigated with due diligence and the facts will be easily determined.

Nicki

[thumbup] nobis!

CDReid

[thumbdown] Sheeple Nicki.

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Dwasserba

Funny, it's more usual among seniors I know to be up and down or at least aware of waking at night. I have an old dog who gets me up, then I'm awake awhile. Guess being a mindreader really wears you out.

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