Assembly OKs hiring counsel in Young probe Attorney will guide ethics panel in its investigation

December 20, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

General Assembly leaders have decided to hire an independent counsel to guide the legislative ethics committee through its investigation of Sen. Larry Young's business affairs, lawmakers said yesterday.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the move was necessary to reassure the public that the committee's inquiry, which is being conducted behind closed doors, will be thorough.

"It's a matter of the public being assured that everything possible is being done to resolve this matter fairly, honestly and equitably to all persons concerned," said Miller, a Prince George's Democrat.

The ethics committee is investigating Young for a series of possible ethical violations outlined in an article in The Sun.

The 12-member panel is expected to look, for example, at whether Young used his legislative office to benefit private companies he controls and whether he properly disclosed some of his financial dealings to the legislature.

The independent counsel will help direct the gathering of documents and will likely conduct much of the questioning of Young and other witnesses at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 6, lawmakers said.

Miller and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. have directed the ethics committee to conclude its work by Jan. 14, when the Assembly begins its annual 90-day session.

Young, who has denied any wrongdoing, has asserted his right under state law to have that hearing closed to the public.

Miller said he planned to announce the name of the special counsel Monday.

The last time the legislature hired an independent lawyer to help handle an ethics investigation came more than 15 years ago, in a matter involving former Del. Frank Santangelo of Prince George's County.

In that case, the House of Delegates eventually voted its "disapproval" of Santangelo for not disclosing his financial interest in a big-band promotion company that received state contracts for performances at the Ocean City Convention Center.

Pub Date: 12/20/97

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