Young defends consulting work at hourlong news conference He says Sun singled him out because he is an African-American

December 04, 1997|By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham | Walter F. Roche Jr. and Scott Higham,SUN STAFF Sun staff photographer Nanine Hartzenbusch and news assistant Jill L. Kubatko contributed to this article.

State Sen. Larry Young yesterday strongly defended his outside consulting business, condemned The Sun and two of its reporters and said he welcomes an ethics investigation into his business and other outside activities.

"I'm not going to bow. I'm not going to bend, and I am no ways tired," Young, 48, said in response to a two-month investigation by The Sun that focused on his corporate and consulting activities.

"I think in America you can at least try to earn a living, and I want to do it fair, aboveboard, and I want to do it right. I'm not devious, dishonest person," he said.

In a one-hour news conference held at his district office yesterday morning, Young said he had done nothing wrong and charged that he had been singled out by The Sun because he is an African-American who holds a position of power in the General Assembly.

"I am convinced that the agenda -- it looks very clear -- that the target is me," Young said, adding that he was convinced that the questions about his conduct were racially motivated.

"These reporters have not looked at anybody else," Young said.

The West Baltimore Democrat said he was working with his lawyer to file suit against The Sun.

"I intend, unless advised otherwise by some of the best legal minds in the state, to sue," he said.

"It is no accident that these reporters have gone through our trash, spied on my staff and friends, and we are looking into the possibility of illegal tapping of our phones."

He said the suit would be filed on behalf of LY Group Inc., his consulting company.

The senator, who had declined four requests for an interview before The Sun published its article yesterday, also denied that taxpayer funds had been used to subsidize the rent, telephone bills or staff salaries for LY Group or two other corporations he founded -- National Black Health Study Group and American Advocate.

"The LY Group is not being run out of the 44th Legislative District," Young said. "In truth, if we were to bill, it would be the reverse. The LY Group is owed money. There's not one dime that we owe the state."

The senator provided reporters with one page of an October phone bill that he said was paid by his company, not the state. The document does not show to whom the bill was sent or who paid the bill.

He also gave reporters a one-page letter that he said showed that his company had a separate lease to occupy the same office space as his district office.

The letter dated Dec. 1 from Edward E. Fox Jr. of BMC Enterprises states: "The total square footage is large enough that the two entities [the 44th District office and LY Group] are able to share space and yet maintain their independence."

"We have two separate lease agreements for these companies," Fox's letter states.

Contacted after the news conference, Fox said he would not release a copy of the LY Group lease unless Young approved it. He later said Young had refused The Sun's request to make the lease public.

"He declines to release it," Fox said.

Young also denied that any staff members paid by the state had done work for his companies while on the state payroll.

"During the legislative session, they were paid by the state, and no corporate work was done," he said.

The senator said that one person who was observed by The Sun driving him to various locations was on the state payroll at the time as an aide to Del. Ruth M. Kirk, a 44th District Democrat who shares office space with the senator.

"I asked Delegate Kirk if she would be kind enough to consider taking the young man on until I could work through the process of getting some money to bring him back with me," Young said.

The Sun reported that the aide, Pearly Blue Jr., a felon, is listed in state parole records as an employee of LY Group.

In his point-by-point rebuttal of the article, Young -- chairman of the Finance Health Subcommittee -- said at his news conference that it was his consulting firm -- not Young personally -- that has been billing the New Jersey-based Merit Behavioral Care Corp. for as much as $7,000 a month. The Sun reported that the bills were sent out by LY Group.

Young said he saw no conflict in his consulting work.

"We do our darnedest to make very clear that we take no contracts in Maryland," he said.

Asked whether he made a profit from his consulting work, Young said: "Yes, sir, and I also pay the taxes, too."

The senator acknowledged that Merit was one of three companies to help underwrite the costs of a recent conference in Las Vegas held by the National Black Health Study Group, another corporation he heads.

"I receive no compensation from the Black Health Study Group whatsoever," Young said.

The senator also detailed his other consulting income, including a subcontract with the Baltimore Urban League. That contract is funded under a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Young did acknowledge some missteps in his consulting agreement with Coppin State College, an institution that relies heavily on state funding. He said he had mistakenly sent out two bills under the name of LY Group. He said those bills should have been sent by him personally.

Young has collected a little more than $33,000 in fees from Coppin at rates ranging up to $5,000 a month.

Pub Date: 12/04/97

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