Young's aides empty office as ex-senator weighs plans Appointment to Senate, House are among options

January 22, 1998|By JoAnna Daemmrich and William F. Zorzi Jr. | JoAnna Daemmrich and William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Scott Higham contributed to this article.

Larry Young, the Maryland senator ousted for ethics transgressions, stayed out of the public spotlight yesterday while his aides emptied the Annapolis office that had been his for a decade.

Five days after becoming the first lawmaker in two centuries to be expelled from the Maryland legislature, Young continued to ponder his future, his lawyer said.

The 48-year-old Young is "weighing his options," considering his political plans and a possible legal challenge to his removal, said Gregg L. Bernstein, his attorney. The former senator did not return calls yesterday.

Immediately after his forced exit from the Senate on Friday, Young vowed to return to office as quickly as possible. Anticipating an attempted comeback, either to the Senate or House of Delegates, the state attorney general's office is examining legal options for the legislature's presiding officers and the governor.

On the third floor of the James Senate Office Building, aides to the former senator emptied his desk and removed rows of plaques and photographs from the walls. They loaded stacks of files onto dollies and took them downstairs to pile into his car.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he had not told Young to move out. "We're trying to make this as smooth a transition as possible," Miller said. "Certainly, no one is pushing him out of the Senate Office Building."

Miller said his office had received and approved Young's request that a secretary receive two weeks' severance pay and that another get three days' pay. He was unclear about the financial status of other Young aides. Young's $29,700 annual salary was to have been cut off Friday after the Senate's 36-10 vote, with one abstention, to remove him.

Young lost his seat after the legislature's ethics committee concluded that he had used his public office for personal gain. He remains under criminal investigation by the state prosecutor's office and the FBI. A grand jury has subpoenaed hundreds of records, and the ethics committee is to vote today on whether to release them.

The ex-lawmaker has suggested that he wants his district's Democratic Central Committee to reappoint him to the Senate. But others believe Young may ask the committee to appoint one of the district's three delegates to the vacant Senate seat, and that Young would seek to be appointed to the resulting vacancy in the House.

Before the committee can consider applicants for the Senate, however, it must first fill a vacancy of its own. City Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch, who chairs the full central committee in Baltimore, said she urged the panel to appoint a fifth member before taking any resumes or interviewing applicants.

The seat has been vacant since Carmena F. Watson resigned in September 1996, after being appointed to the House of Delegates to complete the term of Elijah E. Cummings, who was elected to Congress. The central committee has about three weeks to fill Young's Senate seat.

"We've had to do this before when someone dies or resigns, but never for an expulsion," Welch said. "It's heartbreaking."

It's unclear whether Gov. Parris N. Glendening would have to return Young to the Senate if the committee were to choose him. The governor is required by law to appoint the committee's nominee, if qualified. But the attorney general's office is considering whether Young would be qualified because the Senate expulsion was for the rest of his term, which ends next January.

If the committee instead chose a delegate to fill the seat -- and put Young into the House -- the governor would have no choice but to appoint him. Young would face likely expulsion from the lower chamber, however, as a result of the investigation by the legislature's joint ethics committee.

Lawyers in the attorney general's office had not finalized their advice last night.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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