Resign or be voted out, peers say Senate leader warns expulsion vote likely as early as tomorrow

Ethics Probe Of Senator Young

January 14, 1998|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

Key lawmakers predicted yesterday that the Maryland Senate would vote overwhelmingly to expel state Sen. Larry Young for ethics violations if the Baltimore Democrat fails to resign.

With the General Assembly convening today for its annual 90-day session, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and other senators urged Young to quit to avoid a painful expulsion vote on the Senate floor and to keep his troubles from overshadowing the legislature's business.

"I believe it would pass overwhelmingly," Miller said of the move to expel Young.

With Young expected to attend the Senate's opening session today, Miller said a vote could come as early as tomorrow.

Miller said he was saddened by Young's decision to come to Annapolis today because, he said, Young's presence will overshadow the rest of the legislature.

"Certainly it will detract from the opening proceedings if Senator Young is in the audience," Miller said. "I imagine all eyes in the gallery will be on him."

The opening of the session comes two days after the Assembly's ethics committee delivered a scathing report outlining how Young had broken state ethics laws by inappropriately mingling his official duties and private businesses.

In its 22-page report, the committee urged Miller to have the Senate vote on an expulsion resolution.

Miller and 16 other members of Senate leadership, both Democrats and Republicans, quickly accepted the committee's recommendations and agreed Monday night to support the effort to expel Young, lawmakers said.

Even senators who are close to Young said the outlook was bleak for him.

"It's just a matter of time," said Sen. Decatur W. Trotter, a Prince George's Democrat who served on the ethics committee and said he intends to vote against expulsion. "It doesn't appear that the votes are there at this point" to keep Young in the Senate, he said.

He said Young should weigh the facts and consider the political realities as he decides whether to resign. "He should know how )) he would come out in the vote," Trotter said.

Despite those sentiments, Young, a 24-year veteran of the legislature, told a crowd of supporters last night he would not resign.

Under the Maryland Constitution, two-thirds of the Senate's 47 members, or 32 members, must vote in favor of expulsion. Even with that unusually large number needed, legislators said the votes were there.

Sen. Michael J. Collins, a Baltimore County Democrat and co-chairman of the ethics committee, said he was "very confident" that the Senate would vote to expel Young.

"I think that Senator Young should analyze the situation and do the right thing, which is to resign," Collins said. "If he doesn't choose to do that, the Senate will proceed."

Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah, a Prince George's Democrat, said she regretted Young's troubles but that she would stand with leadership on the expulsion vote.

"It's hurtful to all of us," she said. "I would hope he would not see this as the alpha and omega of his life. I think because he's a very talented person, he has many contributions yet to make."

If Young does attend today's Senate meeting in Annapolis, he will likely have to watch Miller follow through with one of the ethics panel's recommendations to strip Young of nearly all of his legislative influence by taking away his two committee chairmanships and removing him from all Senate committees.

Coming down to witness such actions would suggest that Young is getting bad advice, Miller said.

"I can't imagine his legal counsel sending him in this direction," said Miller, a Prince George's Democrat. "As a friend, I can tell him it's the wrong course to take."

As legislators discussed an expulsion vote yesterday, some were speculating that, even if Young were expelled, the Democratic central committee in his legislative district could later vote to reappoint him to the Senate seat.

Foreseeing such a scenario, Miller instructed his staff to write an expulsion resolution in a way that precludes Young from being reappointed to the seat.

Robert A. Zarnoch, an assistant attorney general who advises the General Assembly, said such a resolution could pass legal muster.

"At least one approach is that the language of the resolution itself could make it clear that a central committee appointment may not bring a person back for the remainder of the term," Zarnoch said.

In addition to the move to expel Young from the Senate, the state prosecutor's office has launched an investigation into whether Young violated any criminal statutes.

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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