Arundel commission widens ethics investigation Scrutiny expands beyond initial hiring questions

August 14, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel Ethics Commission investigation into whether County Executive John G. Gary illegally hired former campaign workers and State House staff for civil service jobs is expanding.

Entering a third month, the probe has pushed beyond its initial scope of determining whether Gary rewarded four political allies tTC with county jobs soon after he took office in December 1994. Three of the four jobs in question were on the Republican executive's staff; none was eligible for appointment.

But no one, including some ethics commissioners, is sure where the investigation is heading. "They are still requesting information from our office," said E. Hilton Wade, the county personnel officer. "They're not telling me anything. I'm not on their team."

County officials, exasperated by the commission's continuing requests for documents, claim a once-focused investigation has taken "a shotgun approach." More positions are being scrutinized. And particularly puzzling to administration officials is the commission's recent request for personnel files of at least one county employee hired by Robert R. Neall, Gary's predecessor.

"It seems peculiar at best," said County Attorney Phillip F. Scheibe. "We're now talking about people the county executive doesn't know. I have no idea what it's about."

The commission's executive director, Betsy K. Dawson, has reviewed more than 150 job applications and employment tests. Dawson, who worked for the county Office of Law from 1977 to 1982, refused to comment yesterday on the status of the investigation, citing confidentiality rules. The Ethics Commission, which met Monday evening, has yet to rule on the matter.

Pub Date: 8/14/96

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