Monday, August 11, 2014

Popular Bowie Politician Dies

August 9, 2014:  Mary Conroy, who represented the Bowie area as a Maryland State Senator and as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, died Saturday at the age of 82.

Conroy was appointed to the Maryland Senate to fill the remaining term of her late husband, Senator Ed Conroy, upon his death in 1982.  Conroy was later appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates to fill the remaining term of Gerard Devlin after he became a Prince George's County District Court Judge.  Conroy served as a delegate for more than twenty years, and she had the distinction of being the Deputy Majority Leader for four of those years.

Conroy's time in Bowie dates back to the time when Levitt & Sons first started selling houses in the community.  Conroy and her husband were one of the first homebuyers in the Belair at Bowie development.  They purchased a Colonial on the corner of Stonybrook Drive and Shawmont Lane in a section of town that was once referred to as a "professional row," according to Conroy.  There was no office space in Bowie in the early 1960s, so it was common for doctors, dentists and other professionals to buy houses along Stonybrook Drive to serve as homes and offices.  Ed Conroy had a law office in the Conroy home on Shawmont Lane.

The Conroys called themselves Belair at Bowie's first residents.  They signed the development's very first property title on the morning of October 17, 1961, according to the Washington Star.

Mary Conroy on Wikipedia
Mary Controy's House of Delegates Profile

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nixon Leaves the White House. What's the Bowie Connection?

August 9, 1974 (40 years ago today): Facing the possibility of impeachment, President Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal.  So what's the Bowie connection?

During the Watergate burglaries in 1972, two phones were bugged in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) offices.  Only one of those listening devices worked.  That bug was in the phone of R. Spencer Oliver.  At that time, Oliver lived in a Cape on Felter Lane in Bowie with his wife and family.

After the bugs were discovered, Oliver was investigated by the FBI.  The FBI hadn't found the bugs in a previous sweep of the office, so there was some suspicion that someone in the DNC had planted the bugs themselves.  In an interview given by journalist Robert Parry years later, Oliver said, "they tried to tie me to radical groups and asked questions of my neighbors and my friends about whether I had ever done anything wrong, whether I drank too much, whether I was an alcoholic, whether I had a broken marriage, whether I had had any affairs.  It was a very intrusive and obnoxious assault on my private life."

Oliver also faced scrutiny from some of his colleagues who didn't feel that he was important enough to have his phone bugged.  There was jealousy.  "Everybody wanted to be the celebrity victim," Oliver told Parry.

After a civil lawsuit was filed, lawyers for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) deposed Oliver.  In an effort to discredit Oliver, they asked him if he was a member of the Communist Party or the Weather Underground.  They asked him if he had ever been arrested.

Oliver soon found himself at odds with DNC leadership.  The DNC wanted to put the Watergate break-in behind them, and they wanted to settle the civil suit.  Oliver felt it was important to continue the lawsuit because the related depositions provided the only opportunity to force the Republicans to answer questions about Watergate.  This was before the Senate Watergate Committee was formed.

Read more about R. Spencer Oliver's role in Watergate in the "Enduring Secrets of Watergate" special report by Robert Parry.