Radio station owner says she'll return state loan Protesting move to expel Young will cost $500,000

Ethics Probe Of Senator Young

January 14, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Cathy Hughes, co-owner of a chain of black-oriented radio stations, told listeners yesterday that she would return a controversial $500,000 state loan to her company to protest moves in the General Assembly to expel state Sen. Larry Young.

"I do not accept blood money. I also do not accept money from unscrupulous, immoral, lying, back-stabbing, vicious, hate-black folks whether [they are] black or not," Hughes said in a commentary on WOLB-AM in Baltimore.

The prominent African-American entrepreneur, whose Radio One Inc. owns WOLB and nine other radio stations and airs a weekly talk show by Young, interrupted regular programming to deliver a lengthy commentary excoriating the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics for its report recommending that Senate leaders consider ousting the Baltimore Democrat.

Hughes' comments, coming from an influential voice in Baltimore's black community, have the potential to significantly magnify the racial aspects of the Young controversy. Among other blistering statements, she compared the ethics panel to a "lynch mob."

The report found that Young had committed a series of violations of the state's ethics laws in his business dealings, as documented in The Sun last month.

"This document is laden with just pure insanity," she said, denouncing black legislators who concurred in its finding as "so-called African-Americans."

Hughes said she would call Gov. Parris N. Glendening before the end of the day to tell him she would accept "not one penny" of the Sunny Day Fund loan to Radio One approved last month to help it move its headquarters from Washington to Prince George's County.

As of early last evening, the governor's office had not yet heard from Hughes, spokesman Ray Feldmann said. Hughes did not return a phone call seeking a comment but sent a fax announcing her decision.

The loan, supported by the Glendening administration at the urging of Young and other lawmakers, was approved by the Legislative Policy Committee over the objections of Republican leaders. Opponents charged that the loan was motivated more by political considerations than by economic development.

Hughes said yesterday that she would reject the loan because it was approved by a committee whose members were "the same group of politicians who now have blood on their hands as they call for the expulsion of Larry Young."

Members of the committee were divided in their reaction to Hughes' statement.

Del. Howard P. Rawlings, who as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee is the most powerful African-American in the Assembly, said he hoped Hughes would reconsider.

"It's important to our community that we have a viable minority-owned radio station and that it expand our capacity," said the Baltimore Democrat, who supported the loan last month after opposing an earlier version last summer. "I look at my hands every day and I don't see a drop of blood on them."

Rawlings, who said he opposes the expulsion recommendation but otherwise agrees with the ethics panel's report, said he understands Hughes' outrage, but he called her disparaging references to black legislators who supported the ethics committee's recommendations "just off base."

Sen. F. Vernon Boozer, a Legislative Policy Committee member who opposed the loan, said Hughes' declaration that she would return the money shows "there's something good that comes out of everything that's bad."

But Boozer, the Senate minority leader, said he was skeptical that Hughes would actually return the money.

"I wouldn't hold my breath, let's put it that way," said the Baltimore County Republican.

Pub Date: 1/14/98

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