State votes to pay legal fees for city election office head Action stems from probe of '94 gubernatorial voting

January 04, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

State officials approved yesterday paying more than $42,000 in legal fees rung up by the head of the Baltimore election office during the criminal investigation of the 1994 gubernatorial election.

The Board of Public Works voted to pay the fees for Barbara E. Jackson despite emphatic testimony from three critics in the audience, including one who stood before Gov. Parris N. Glendening and accused him of winning a stolen election.

The strongly worded statements broke the decorum of the meeting but did not stop Mr. Glendening and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein from approving the payment.

"Ms. Jackson is a professional who has done her job and is protected by the law for doing that," Mr. Glendening said in his only comment about the issue.

Ms. Jackson hired attorney George A. Nilson of the Baltimore firm of Piper and Marbury to represent her during last year's criminal investigation of the election by the state prosecutor.

The investigation was sparked by charges of impropriety made by Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who lost the election by fewer than 6,000 votes to Mr. Glendening, a Democrat.

Although the state prosecutor identified cases in which election officials, including Ms. Jackson, made mistakes, he found insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.

Under Maryland law, state employees who are the subjects of criminal investigations can have their legal fees paid by the state as long as the employee acted in good faith and was not convicted, according to Deputy Attorney General Ralph S. Tyler III.

Guy Sabatino, a Baltimore Re

publican who has been active in the challenge to the 1994 election, said that Ms. Jackson made serious mistakes that he likened to criminal violations. "This woman is not some pristine woman who did an excellent job," Mr. Sabatino told the board.

Another opponent, Lloyd Hinton, told Mr. Glendening that there was "plenty of evidence that there was voter fraud committed in Baltimore City that carried your election."

Mr. Glendening, who rarely has had to contend with such face-to-face criticism about the election, did not respond to the comments.

In another chapter of the dispute over the election, Daniel J. Earnshaw, Ms. Jackson's most outspoken critic, filed suit yesterday claiming that she had committed fraud by failing to purge thousands of inactive voters from the list of eligible voters.

Ms. Jackson last month filed a lawsuit claiming that Mr. Earnshaw, who served on the state election board until last summer, made slanderous comments about her handling of the election.

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