State probes employees union PAC

October 22, 1991

The state prosecutor's office is investigating possible criminal conduct -- violations of state election laws or even theft -- in the management of the Maryland Classified Employees Association's political action committee.

The investigation of the PAC, called The Employees Action Movement (TEAM), was started this summer after charges surfaced that its board had spent money without proper authorization, and documentation and receipts for expenditures could not be found, officials familiar with the investigation said.

"The prosecutor's office [investigators] came down in late July and are looking into it," said Lance R. Cornine, MCEA's executive director. "They pulled the financial records and did make some interviews. But I think it's more fluff than substance. In conversations with the prosecutor, he indicated that it would be wound up at any time."

Scott E. Nevin, a prosecutor, confirmed the investigation and said that he expected it to be wrapped up within a month.

TEAM raised $119,453.53 during the 1990 election cycle, according to records filed with the state elections board. Members of the MCEA have the option of donating money to TEAM, which passes on the money it raises to political candidates.

Mr. Cornine said the MCEA board "recognized some weaknesses in the oversight, reporting and accountability -- administrative-type things" -- earlier this summer and initiated some changes on its own. The board named a special committee to look into administration of TEAM and has changed the bylaws to make the PAC more accountable, he said.

Apparently, it was sloppy bookkeeping, including misplaced receipts, exacerbated by internal squabbling that led to the investigation, said Wayne Hurley, the new chairman of TEAM.

"I'm taking kind of a wait-and-see approach," Mr. Hurley said of the investigation's outcome. "I hope there were no improprieties."

Quinton D. Pinkney, who resigned as TEAM's chairman for "personal reasons" in May, said he knew about the investigation and was interviewed by investigators, but he did not know anything about the allegations of mismanagement of the PAC money.

"I don't know anything about mismanagement of funds," Mr. Pinkney said. "There certainly was not any [mismanagement] when I was there."

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