Longtime Maryland Democrat state Rep. Tawanna Gaines has died of bladder cancer at 70 years old.
Gaines was diagnosed in early October after experiencing abdominal pains doctors had initially told her were caused by fibroid tumors, the Washington Post reported. Her condition worsened and she passed away at Doctors Community Medical Center.
“Gaines got her start as a Berwyn Heights Town Council member in 1998 and was mayor of Berwyn Heights from 2000 to 2001. As a delegate, she was deputy majority whip from 2003 to 2007, vice chair of the Prince George’s House delegation from 2007 to 2008, and assistant majority leader in 2015. She represented District 22, which covered parts of Prince George’s County, from Dec. 21, 2001, to Oct. 4, 2019. She hastily resigned from office two weeks before she was charged with federal wire fraud for using campaign funds for personal use. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced in January 2020,” the WaPo report stated.
Gaines spent years working in politics before she was hit with a federal wire fraud conviction that resulted in a six-month prison sentence.
After she pleaded guilty, Gaines told reporters that she took “full responsibility” for her actions and encouraged the public not to judge other lawmakers because of her choices.
Anitra Edmond, her daughter, was the treasurer for the “Friends of Tawanna P. Gaines” campaign and also pleaded guilty to the same charge.
“Before Gaines faced a federal court, she had faced state investigators for flouting campaign finance rules, resulting in fines and a 2016 referral to the Office of the State Prosecutor, the state agency that oversees corruption. Gaines’s fall from political grace was devastating to people of color and women for whom Gaines was a role model and advocate. She maintained close connections to municipal leaders after ascending to Annapolis and had ready ears to hear their concerns, Miles said,” the Post reported.
Last week, former Maryland Democrat State Delegate Sheila Hixson passed away.
The prominent Democrat, who served as the Maryland Ways and Means chairwoman, died at the age of 89 on Sunday, just days before the crucial midterm elections.
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