Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Marvin Mandel

Marvin Mandel a member of the United States Democratic Party, was the 56th Governor of Maryland in the United States from January 7, 1969 to January 17, 1979. He was Maryland's first, and to date, only, Jewish governor.

Mandel was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended the Baltimore City Public Schools. He also attended Baltimore City College before receiving his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Mandel was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1952, representing Baltimore City (District 5). Mandel was chosen as speaker of the house in 1963 and served in that position until 1969, at which point he was elected Governor by the Maryland General Assembly following the resignation of Spiro Agnew. (Agnew had resigned as governor to serve as Vice President of the United States under then President Richard Nixon). Mandel was elected by the people in 1970 and again in 1974.

Mandel's administration was notable for many reasons. While governor; the executive branch of the Maryland government was reorganized into twelve departments. The mass-transit system of Maryland fostered under him, enacting plans for the establishment of subways for Baltimore City and the Washington, DC suburbs. Additionally, a large public school construction initiative was undertaken while he was governor.

The negative highlight of Mandel's governorship was his conviction of mail fraud and racketeering. As a result, on June 4, 1977, Governor Mandel notified Lieutenant Governor Blair Lee III that Lee would serve as acting governor until further notice. (Lee continued to serve as acting governor until January 15, 1979, when Mandel rescinded his letter appointing Lee Acting Governor two days before the expiration of his second full elective term). Mandel served nineteen months in prison before having his sentence commuted by President Ronald Reagan. Based on the reasoning of recent opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, a U.S. District Judge overturned Mandel's conviction in 1987. A year later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed.