Taylor lays Rocky Gap charges to 'Lapidesism' Music festival funds' handling questioned

October 22, 1991|By Thom Loverro | Thom Loverro,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- Delegate Casper R. Taylor Jr., responding to charges that thousands of dollars in state funds for the Rocky Gap Music Festival cannot be accounted for, said yesterday that the foundation that runs the event is a victim of "Lapidesism."

Mr. Taylor, D-Allegany, president of the Rocky Gap Foundation, the non-profit volunteer group that runs the festival, was referring to state Sen. Julian L. Lapides, D-Baltimore. The Western Maryland delegate charged that the Baltimore senator has unfairly targeted non-profit foundations set up as private-public partnerships for economic development.

In a meeting with the Western Maryland delegation, Mr. Taylor laid part of the blame for the Rocky Gap controversy at the feet of Mr. Lapides.

"We're also here because of a symptomatic problem that comes close to McCarthyism," Mr. Taylor said. "Perhaps we should called it Lapidesism. It began several years ago when Senator Lapides went on a crusade against foundations and private-public partnerships."

Senator Lapides denied last night that he had any vendetta against the foundation. "I just believe that any foundations that use public funds should be subject to a public audit," he said.

Despite Mr. Taylor's contention that Mr. Lapides was behind the controversy, most of the fire publicly has come from state Sen. John J. Hafer, R-Allegany. The first-term legislator has charged that money the foundation received from the state Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED) cannot be accounted for.

Mr. Hafer has also charged that some DEED funds may have been "commingled" with campaign funds for candidates represented by the public relations firm that also promoted the festival.

The state prosecutor's office is reviewing foundation records. Mr. Hafer has called for a legislative audit of DEED and foundation records.

Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, House chairman of the joint committee that authorizes such audits, said any such request would need the Western Maryland delegation's approval.

However, Delegate James E. "Doc" McClellan, D-Frederick, chairman of the Western Maryland delegation, said the delegation would not make any request for an audit until the prosecutor's probe is complete.

DEED officials, including Secretary Mark Wasserman, appeared before the delegation yesterday. Mr. Hafer questioned the DEED auditor who reviewed the agency's grants to the foundation about why $157,000 was spent on promotion last year and only $88,000 this year. The auditor said he found the foundation records in order.

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