Senate panel doesn’t advance Gov. Wes Moore’s pick for spot on Maryland Stadium Authority board – Baltimore Sun

A businesswoman appointed by Gov. Wes Moore to serve on the powerful Maryland Stadium Authority board made a passionate plea Monday to state lawmakers in charge of confirming her position but who are concerned about her past legal and financial issues.

Yolanda Maria Martinez said she had moved on from the issues — which include a personal bankruptcy and lawsuits against her for unpaid debts — and would bring a “fiscally responsible” background to the role that, among other duties, makes decisions about leases and renovations for Baltimore’s sports stadiums.

“My challenges have had root causes and I don’t make excuses for anything,” Martinez told members of the Senate Finance Committee, which ultimately did not advance her nomination Monday. “Situations have occurred and I think I’ve handled them and tackled them head-on.”

Those situations include a personal bankruptcy in 2019 when she owed $6.2 million, mostly related to a respiratory health care company she founded in 2001 and shut down in 2018, according to a report Monday from Maryland Matters.

During that business venture and others, at least 64 lawsuits or liens for unpaid debts have been filed against her over the past 35 years, the online news organization reported.

Martinez held up a printed copy of the Maryland Matters story when addressing the committee, which has passed every other major appointment made by the new Democratic governor since he took office Jan. 18. Though the committee did not advance her with other nominees Monday, it could consider her again in the coming weeks.

“I am here to be transparent, to be vulnerable, to show my integrity. I’m here to tell you my story as well. This is not my story,” she said as she held up the printed report.

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As the committee listened silently, Martinez said the roots of her struggles began with an arranged marriage when she was a teenager that led her to live in South America for a time, and then continued with domestic violence in a different marriage, which she said created the residual effects leading to financial problems.

Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, a Wicomico County Republican, expressed sympathy for Martinez’s story after her speech. But she added that she and the other members of the committee had to consider Martinez’s issues in the context of the stadium authority board, which is responsible for projects worth billions of dollars.

“When our constituents raise concerns about a challenged fiscal history and background that’s being applied to an appointment to one of the most important and prestigious in the state, those are legitimate questions,” Carozza said. “And they ask the question, ‘Are there others that didn’t face these challenges that might have been better nominees?’”

Moore has stood by Martinez’s nomination. When nominating her last month, he highlighted her role in the now-shuttered respiratory health care company, Respira, and her past roles on numerous civic boards and organizations, including chairing the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

He said earlier Monday that he was excited about her getting a hearing.

“I think people will see that she brings a unique perspective, that she brings a unique view, and that the journey that she has had — the life journey that she has had — not only does it mirror many Marylanders’, but she is going to bring a unique additive to what we need to see on the Maryland Stadium Authority,” Moore said when asked about her at a different event in Baltimore.

Moore’s pick to lead the stadium authority board, attorney Craig Thompson, was recently confirmed by the Senate as the board negotiates with the Orioles on a new lease for the state-owned Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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