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Glenn Ivey '83, former MD prosecutor, runs for seat in House

Glenn+Ivey
Glenn+Ivey

Raised in segregated North Carolina, Glenn Ivey ’83 is currently running as a Democrat to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for Maryland's 4th District.

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Glenn+Ivey

The 4th District includes Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County, which contain the Washington D.C. and Annapolis suburbs of Bladensburg, Laurel, Severna Park, and Cheverly.

The district is known for its racial diversity, as Prince George’s County is predominantly African American and Anne Arundel County is predominantly white. The seat is currently held by Donna Edwards (D-MD), the first African American woman to represent Maryland in Congress.

“I had seen how the Civil Rights movement, LBJ and the War on Poverty impacted the country and my life,” Ivey said. “The walls of segregation to some extent came down, and I wanted to be one of the people involved in making that happen.”

Ivey explained that his decision to run for Congress this year was spurred after current Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski announced that she was retiring. Rep. Edwards thenannounced her run for the Senate seat, and after talking with his family, Ivey decided to run for Edwards’ seat in the House.

He noted that he is well-suited to represent the people of the 4th District due to his experience as the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, specifically his implementation of mentoring programs, domestic violence outreach, offender re-entry programs, and tutoring programs. He added that as a Congressman, he would be able to use his position to advocate for more of these reforms in his district.

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United States District Court Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ’70 explained that there is no better person qualified to serve in Congress than Ivey.

Robert Doar ’83, who has known Ivey since freshman year at the University, noted that Ivey is an all-around good guy, who cares about others and his community.

“Glenn is one of those great people who you meet when you’re a freshman and is a friend for life,” Doar said. “He’s such a generous, decent, loving, and good guy.”

Prince George’s County Councilmember Deni Taveras GS ’03 explained that Ivey is very responsive to the needs of his community, and is willing to do the right thing.

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“He is willing to do the right thing before it becomes popular,” Taveras said. “He was willing to talk about ex-offenders and their re-entry into society with pastors and community members before it became a thing to talk about it.”

Bladensburg Town Councilmember Cris Mendoza added that Ivey is extremely honest, and has the best interests of the people at heart.

“When you’re not around, he still has your back,” Mendoza said. “He represents everybody.”

Former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes ’54, who represented Maryland, noted that when Ivey worked for him during the Whitewater investigation of the 1990s, he became well-known for his analytical ability.

“He was recognized as one of the most effective staff members on Capitol Hill,” Sarbanes said. “He had an ability to work with others to try to find solutions to problems.”

Ivey was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, but grew up in Dale City, Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C. He added that many of the local families worked for the military and intelligence agencies. He attended Gar-Field High School, and was interested in basketball. During his senior year, Ivey applied to many schools with strong basketball teams, expecting to play on the team for his four years in college. Ivey noted that Princeton really appealed to him, because of future U.S. Senator Bill Bradley ’65, who played for the New York Knicks and was inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame, and Pete Carril, who was the University’s head basketball coach.

“Bradley was a phenomenal basketball player and an interesting figure,” Ivey said. “Coach Carril was a legendary coach, and I was interested in maybe having a chance to play for a guy like that.”

Ivey was accepted to the University, but noted that he wasn’t sure that he would fit in socially on campus. However, when he visited, he met some of his future classmates and decided that the University would be a good fit.

“This was a place where I would be comfortable,” Ivey said. “It had great academics and social experiences.”

He joined the University in the fall of 1979, and was immediately surprised by the wealth of many of his classmates. Coming from a middle class background, Ivey noted that he wasn’t used to this level of socioeconomic contrast.

“During freshman week, there was a guy who drove up in a BMW,” Ivey said. “I had never seen a BMW before, and I realized that there was this entire other world that I had not had contact with.”

Ivey explained that despite this difference, he never felt that his status disadvantaged him in any way. On campus, Ivey joined the basketball team, but quit after a couple of months. Ivey explained that his teammates were much more talented than he was, and included the likes of future basketball stars Craig Robinson ’83, David Blatt ’81, and John Rogers ’83.

“It was a pretty impressive group,” Ivey said. “I wasn’t good enough to play with those guys.”

Ivey joined the Undergraduate Student Government and also did some martial arts to stay in shape. For the most part, he focused on his academic studies, particularly politics.

Ivey wrote his senior thesis on creating a 501(c)(4) organization that could do political lobbying and advocating for the public.

He graduated from the University in 1983, and then joined Harvard Law School. He noted that he had been interested in the Watergate scandal, specifically the roles the lawyers played in the Watergate hearings. He was also inspired by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund.

“It was another way to address the kind of issues and concern that I had about making society fair and more equitable,” Ivey said.

He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986, and joined the law firm Gordon-Feinblatt in Baltimore. He explained that he wanted to be near Washington, but was more interested in a mid-city sized practice. However, he didn’t enjoy the work, and began looking for another avocation. Ivey explained that he heard that Doar, one of his former basketball teammates, was running Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s campaign for Congress in Maryland.

“What he was doing sounded a lot more interesting than what I was doing in the law firm,” Ivey said. “I went home that night and started putting my résumé together.”

He applied for positions on Capitol Hill, and was hired to work with U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. He noted that the staff of a U.S. Congressman was pretty small back then, so he worked on a variety of issues. Some of the issues he helped address were making voter registration easier, helping small minority businesses get federal government contracts, helping artists and musicians get retirement benefits, writing author James Baldwin’s eulogy, and obtaining Congressional support for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the African-American museum in Washington, D.C.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Ivey said.

In 1989, Ivey and his wife were expecting their first child, and he decided to return to private practice in order to make some additional money. He joined Preston, Gates, Ellis, and Rouvelas, but again didn’t enjoy the work he was doing. Ivey subsequently joined the Justice Department as an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C. He noted that the D.C. office is unique, in that it deals with local and federal issues.

“As a lawyer, you get more trial experience, and it’s a bigger office than most attorney’s offices,” Ivey said.

He spent four years with the Justice Department, and noted that during the early 1990s, the murder rate in Washington D.C. was almost four times higher than what it is today. Ivey handled several violent crime cases, and explained that the pace of the trials was very hectic.

“I would be preparing for one trial while doing the closing argument for the next,” he said. “It was a baptism by fire, but it was interesting work.”

One of the things that impacted Ivey was that the incarceration of low-level drug offenders wasn’t effective, and he felt that the approach should change. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Eric Holder as the United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., and Ivey noted that the focus of the office shifted to figuring out ways to prevent crime and work with the local community. He added that he adopted many of these ideas when he served as the State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County, and said that these preventative steps definitely had an effect.

Judge Kennedy, who presided over many of the felony cases that Ivey argued, noted that Ivey demonstrated excellence in his advocacy and prosecutorial skills. He added that only the best assistant attorneys are assigned to these kinds of cases.

“He did everything you would want an Assistant U.S. Attorney to do,” Kennedy said. “He was a person of integrity, and he demonstrated his appreciation for being a fair player.”

Judge Kennedy noted that Ivey would never hide evidence that benefitted the defense, which speaks to his strong code of ethics. He also explained that as a prosecutor, Ivey would always work with defense attorneys to reach compromises, a skill that is beneficial in Congress.

“It’s possible to disagree but not be disagreeable,” Kennedy said. “Glenn always kept sight of that, and always was able to get along with his counterpart on the other side and the judge.”

Ivey left the Justice Department in 1994 to serve as the majority counsel to U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Donald Riegle, where he worked on the Whitewater investigations. He investigated President Clinton’s involvement with a savings and loan company that had gone under during the savings and loan crisis. Ivey noted that his experience as a prosecutor and an aide on Capitol Hill was one of the reasons he was brought on to assist the investigation.“They were looking for someone who knew both worlds and could help them out with this,” Ivey said.

In 1995, Senator Riegle retired and Ivey became counsel to Senator Sarbanes, who was also serving on the Banking Committee. Senator Sarbanes said that Ivey was an able and effective aide, and knows how to get things done.

“You could give Glenn a project and know that it would be well-done,” Sarbanes said. “He is very perceptive and he knows how to put things together and present them in an organized fashion.”

In 1997, after the Whitewater investigation finished, Ivey became chief counsel to then Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. He worked on campaign finance issues, education issues, and pension reform. Ivey noted that helped Senator Daschle pass bills raising the minimum wage, increasing healthcare coverage to children, and the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.

“Working for those three guys was just a great opportunity to see different types of leadership and how they made policy decisions,” Ivey said. “It was a great training for being State’s Attorney further down the road.”

In 1998, Ivey became tired of the Whitewater investigations and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, since there was very little policy being implemented. Due to his work with Senator Sarbanes, Ivey became well-known in the Maryland political circle, and Maryland Governor Parris Glendening appointed him to become the Chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission. Primarily, Ivey worked on regulating utilities such as telecom, and he noted that he learned how to manage a large staff and deal with a large budget. He also served as the President of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (MACRUC).

Michelle Malloy, Executive Director of MACRUC, noted that as the President, Ivey was in charge of organizing the annual education conference and chairing three regional meetings. Malloy added that MACRUC is a 501(c)(3) organization that educates utility commissioners from the 11 Mid-Atlantic states on how to best protect consumers in their region by passing effective regulations, such as dealing with electricity. Malloy noted that Ivey made sure that all opinions were heard during meetings.

“Ivey made significant efforts to be involved in MACRUC, and he is a very personable person, with great leadership skills, and is very thoughtful,” Malloy said.

In 2000, the sitting State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County decided to run for County Executive, and Ivey decided that he wanted to run for the State’s Attorney position. He stepped down from the Maryland Public Service Commission and re-joined the law firm Preston Gates so he would be free to campaign and fundraise. He noted that Preston Gates was fine with him running for elected office, even though they hoped he would stay in private practice.

He took a brief break in 2000 to counsel Al Gore’s presidential campaign in Florida during the recount controversy. Ivey worked at Preston Gates for two years, and also fundraised to run for the State’s Attorney position. In 2002, he was elected, and subsequently re-elected in 2006 as the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County.

As State’s Attorney, Ivey worked on drug violence cases, noting that the proximity of Prince George’s County to Washington, D.C. resulted in a spillover of drugs on the county border, despite the county’s suburban features. He added that gun violence was increasing in the county, especially over non-trivial issues.

“It was insane what people were getting shot for,” Ivey said. “We had to try to tamp the violence down.”He explained that he used the same strategy that Eric Holder pioneered in Washington, D.C., where he vigorously prosecuted violent offenders but also introduced intervention and prevention efforts and worked against mass incarceration of low-level offenders.

“We didn’t just show up when the body hit the ground, put a case together, and then leave until the next shooting occurred,” Ivey said. “We went into the community and we stayed there, and we tried to win the people over as partners in reducing crime.”

Ivey noted that community was very receptive to the idea, dubbed the "Boston Method," and his office developed strong networks of support with law enforcement and the community. He also reached out to ex-offenders, and worked with them to reduce gang violence and retaliation. Ivey helped ex-offenders re-integrate into society and find jobs, and did domestic violence outreach by working with local pastors and congregations.

“We helped people struggling in the community to become productive members of the community,” Ivey said. “I’m really proud with what we did.”

Valencia Campbell, President of the Prince George's County Drug Policy Coalition, noted that Ivey was actively involved in the community and encouraged young people to stay out of trouble.

"He emphasized that they may have some culture shock as he did when they land on that college campus, but if they stay focused and take advantage of internship opportunities they are likely to have have some great job prospects later," Campbell said.

Campbell added that Ivey is an awesome public servant who knows how to connect with his constituents.

Ivey added that there was also a large undocumented immigrant population in the county, which created tensions in the county. He worked to limit organized gang violence against the undocumented immigrants, and reached out to the immigrant community for assistance in prosecuting these gangs. He noted that he earned the community’s trust by working to prevent mass deportations, and helped some acquire legal status and created an infrastructure for many Latinos to run for public office.

“We convinced them that we were there to provide services,” Ivey said. “We wanted them to become parts of the community, not rip them out of it.”

Maryland Delegate Carlo Sanchez noted that Ivey was the first State’s Attorney to address the large Latino community in the county, and he said that Ivey recognized that there were Latino victims of crime that needed help.“They needed someone who could speak their language and understand what they were going through,” Sanchez said. “He made a concerted effort to make sure that there were people who could include these folks in his administration.”

Sanchez added that Ivey is very forward-thinking and is willing to fight for people who need help the most.

Finally, Ivey worked to limit mass incarceration of low-level offenders, and turned to using drug courts, mentoring, and other community outreach efforts to limit drug use and re-integrate them back into the community.

Maryland Delegate Jimmy Tarlau and Councilmember Taveras said that the issue of mass incarceration and the re-entry of ex-offenders are very important in Prince George’s County, and that Ivey’s record addressing these issues at the state and federal level makes him the ideal person to pass solutions in Congress.

“He is the only person running [in the 4th District] who has the experience of having pushed for legislation at the federal level,” Taveras said. “He can start on day one.”

Tarlau added that Ivey’s experience serving in Capitol Hill sets him apart from his competitors, and is the most qualified candidate to address federal issues with a balanced approach.

“When you talk to him, you really feel like he’s listening to you,” Tarlau said. “He would probably be someone who could work across party lines.”

Delegate Sanchez added that Ivey makes his arguments by relying on the data, and remains level-headed and stoic during heated arguments with others who may disagree with him.

"We need people who are able to come in and have these important conversations and get their point across and not lose the information or the impact of the point they're trying to make," Sanchez said. "Glenn's personality is perfect for this."

Senator Sarbanes noted that Ivey’s experience as State’s Attorney makes him well-suited to serve in Congress, since he had to make tough decisions and did a good job.

“He has taken a keen interest in civic affairs in his community,” Sarbanes said. “He’s been a very highly responsible citizen.”

In 2011, Ivey returned to private practice and in 2012 joined Leftwich & Ludaway, which is one of the dominant African-American owned law firms in the country. Currently, Ivey is a partner and works on litigation for clients such as the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists, small businesses, and individuals.

Marie Johns, who works with Ivey at Leftwich & Ludaway, noted that Ivey has always been a leader in the firm, and has the ability to get things done and fully grasp complex issues. She believes that Ivey will look for new and effective ways to get things done.

“I’m very wary of the current less-than-effective Congress,” Johns said. “I know that Glenn can get in there and help move [Congress] towards doing people’s work.”

He noted that one of the reasons that he decided to run for Congress this year was his interest in public service and his experience serving his community. Ivey explained that as State’s Attorney, he would often handle problems that community members were facing that didn’t have to do with his job, but he noted that the community would contact him because there was no one else who could address their problems. For example, he would connect people who needed money for psychological counseling to the appropriate state and federal agency.

“If you don’t really know the ins and outs of government bureaucracy, it’s hard to know where to start sometimes,” Ivey said. “We would help these folks out.”

He added that his experience working with members of the community to address their problems makes him well-suited to represent them in Congress.

In Congress, Ivey would work to end the divisiveness between both the Republican and Democratic parties. He noted that if the Republican party continues to shift in the direction of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz ’92, he would fight many of the divisive and destructive policies that they advocate. However, he explained that he would be willing to work with members of the Republican and Democratic parties who want to address real issues, such as Obamacare.

“Obamacare’s not perfect,” Ivey said. “There are a lot of things that need to be improved about it, but right now the Republicans have had 62 votes to repeal it but no votes to improve it or tweak it.”

He added that he hopes Congress becomes a place where the people’s business gets done.He plans to improve the education system, work on criminal justice reform, and cybersecurity, which are issues that he thinks have bipartisan support. He added that he would try to find common ground with Representatives who may disagree with him, but there are some issues, like patrolling Muslim neighborhoods, that he would stand his ground against.

Sanchez noted that the education system in Prince George’s County is one of the worst in the state, and Ivey has the experience necessary to fix the system by implementing innovative solutions.

“Glenn’s experience with his kids allows him to see what we can do to boost up our public school system,” Sanchez said.

Doar, who noted that he is a Republican, said that despite his ideological differences with Ivey, he thinks that Ivey is the best person to represent the 4th District in Congress.

“On many issues we don’t agree, but he has the leadership and human qualities that will be helpful in Congress,” Doar said. “I’m very enthusiastic about his campaign.”

He added that Ivey has the skills needed to work with Democrats and Republicans to address issues like poverty, education, and helping low-income Americans.

Ivey noted that he doesn’t have a lot of free time, but he used to work as an alumni interviewer for the University and helped organize the inaugural Princeton Prize for Race Relations in Washington, D.C. He enjoys watching basketball and spending time with his wife, former Maryland Delegate Jolene Ivey, and their 5 children.

Image Courtesy NBCWashington.com

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