Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.’s Chief of Staff Jake Weissmann is dismissing a questionable remark uttered by his longtime boss as an”inside joke” between the both of them.
Nearly three-quarters through last Thursday afternoon’s Senate floor proceedings, Miller (D-Calvert), standing at the Senate rostrum, is overheard saying “I’d rather listen to this little 30-year-old Jew than that…. (inaudible).”
The latter half of Miller’s comment is inaudible. (A Miner Detail has submitted the recording to audio experts to decipher.)
When reached for comment on Friday, Weissman, who is Jewish, dismissed his boss’ remark as nothing more than an inside joke between the two men.
“That’s an inside joke between me and my boss that’s been going on for years,” Weissman wrote in an email to A Miner Detail on Friday afternoon.
Preceding Miller’s unrestrained remark, Miller requested the Senate clerk read the next Senate bill up for discussion. The clerk began to introduce Senate Bill 950 when Miller is heard whispering “Come on.”
Then Miller is heard saying, “I’d rather listen to this little 30-year-old Jew than that…”
Subsequently, Miller said, “Pardon my…”
Before Miller’s microphone was switched off, someone adjacent to Miller is heard shushing the longtime Senate president.
Thereafter, Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Rockville/Gaithersburg) broke the brief silence and spoke from the Senate floor.
“Okay,” she said.
A nine-second pause followed.
Breaking the pause, Miller turned on his mic.
“I’m sorry, a little ex parte communication up here.”
The Senate chamber subsequently broke into laughter, and Miller is also overheard laughing.
“Alright, sorry, go ahead,” Miller said, again laughing out loud.
On Saturday, A Miner Detail pressed Weissmann on whether he considered the “joke” appropriate for the Senate floor.
Weissmann shot back in an email that he was “Not going to get into a back and forth concerning the many inside jokes between my boss and I over the last decade.”
Acknowledging Miller’s remark, Weissmann said he was not offended and noted that others should not use Miller’s comment “for cheap political gain”
“Suffice to say, I was not offended, and nobody should be claiming offense on my behalf, especially those who would claim to be outraged for cheap political gain.”
Weissmann did not directly respond to A Miner Detail’s question about whether Miller’s “joke” is suitable for the Senate floor, nor did Weissmann respond about when the so-called joke originated between him and Miller as well as his initial reaction to Miller calling him a “little 30-year-old Jew.”
Kagan, when reached for comment via Facebook Messanger, wrote, “Jake wasn’t offended” and noted that the apparent joke is a “long-standing thing.”
“I’m not sure there’s a story,” Kagan wrote.
Asked whether Kagan would use similar language with her Senate staffers, she responded, “As you know, I am not Mike Miller.”
On Friday, former state Del. Saqib Ali, a Montgomery County Democrat, ripped Miller over his remark via Facebook.
“This is why he has been fighting cameras on the floor of the State Senate for so long. Now we will see if the Democrats react to a powerful racist (Mike Miller) the same way they reacted to a non-powerful racist (Mary Anne Lisanti).”
“This follows his recent vulgar rant in the Washington Post where he made gangster-like threats which barely even raised an eyebrow: ‘People are gonna f— with me? You’re gonna f— with me? You f— with me, you’re gonna get f—ed back.’ This is the kind of thing that would cause a righteous uproar if Donald Trump said it. But everyone keeps giving him a pass. This mediocre racist has been the beneficiary of so much privilege, its unbelievable,” Ali wrote.
Chevy Fleischman Weiss, a well-known political strategist who has worked in Maryland politics for over two decades, blasted Miller for his remark, telling A Miner Detail:
“There are two issues here. First is the anti-Semitism which I have personally experienced and witnessed an increase of in recent years, in both political parties; we are taking steps backward, and our political leaders are unapologetically getting away with it. I am frightened that some political leaders feel so comfortable publicly sharing feelings that have apparently laid dormant within the parties for years. The second issue is the standards of behavior we should deserve from our political leaders.
Weiss, who is Orthodox Jewish, continued:
“I don’t care the context. I don’t care if he has acted like this for decades and everyone stayed quiet. I don’t care if he is sick and undergoing medical care. Leaders are supposed to set by example, and we need a zero tolerance policy – whether it is a comment against a black or a Jew or a woman, we must stop the double standards of Democrats in Annapolis who claim to fight for everyone but really are demeaning and have a high intolerance of way too many.”
Thursday’s floor session can be heard here in its entirety. Miller’s remark in question begins around 1:47:38.
Miller, who announced in January that he has Stage 4 prostate cancer, has not issued any statement clarifying his comment.
The 2019 Maryland legislative session ends at midnight Monday, April 8.