2-17-12: How the General Assembly Polices Itself
Update: State Sen. Jamie Raskin was called away last minute to a 9 a.m. meeting regarding ethics, and was not able to join us. We’ll try and tape an interview with him later today. Please keep an eye on this page for updates.
Yesterday afternoon, the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics recommended that Ulysses Currie, a Democratic state senator from Prince George’s County, be censured, forced to apologize, and banned from any leadership positions. (Report here.) According to the AP, the Senate will vote on the report’s recommendations today.
The committee had been meeting behind closed doors—including a meeting with Currie himself—to decide on recommendations about how to officially deal with Currie’s ethical transgressions while in office.
Last year, Currie was acquitted by a federal jury of bribery charges related to his work with Shoppers Food Warehouse. He failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars of that income with the General Assembly. During the trial, his counsel admitted that this was an ethical failing, if not criminal.
A special Senate committee is developing proposals for ethical reform for the entire General Assembly; a report is due by March 1. Jamie Raskin, a Democratic state Senator from Montgomery County, is the chair of that committee, and he has already sponsored two ethics reform bills. One would require more public reporting of public officials’ financial disclosures. The other would create some exemptions for local and county officials’ public disclosures.
Today, we’ll speak with Sen. Raskin, and we’ll get some perspective on ethics reform in Annapolis from Susan Wichmann, executive director of government transparency watchdog organization Common Cause Maryland.