Schafer Didn't Violate Ethics Law, Attorney Says

October 21, 1990

Some citizens are upset by the fact that County Councilman John D. Schafer, D-District C, voted against a motion to appeal a judge's decision that will allow Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc. to seek a state permit for a proposed rubble fill.

Schafer's son, Richard Schafer of Churchville, is president of Maryland Reclamation. Schafer abstained from two previous council votes -- one in November and one in May -- on matters related to Maryland Reclamation's proposal for a rubble fill.

Lester H. Feinberg, the council's attorney, said, "I gave Schafer an opinion in November that he could vote without violating the ethics law because the language of the law dealt with dependent children."

The section of the law that applies to such situations tells the county's elected officials they cannot: "Participate on behalf of the county in any matter which would, to their knowledge, have a direct financial impact, as distinguished from the public generally, on them, their spouses or dependent children or a business entity with which they are affiliated."

Feinberg said that since Richard Schafer is not dependent on his father, the elder Schafer would not face a conflict of interest if he voted on issues affecting Maryland Reclamation.

"If it's not a direct conflict, they have to decide individually," said Feinberg. "Technically, it's not a violation of the ethics law."

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