Young seeking to regain his seat Senate expulsion affects this term only

June 02, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

Expelled state senator Larry Young plans to launch his re-election campaign at a Baltimore fund-raiser next week, despite criminal probes that could cost him his seat a second time.

The $50 tickets for the event refer to "State Senator Larry Young" with no mention of his expulsion. They call him "hard-working, unbought, unbossed, yet always responsive" and quote Young as saying, "I believe I'll run again with your help."

The Maryland Senate expelled Young in January for using his public office to benefit corporations he created. But state officials say that if re-elected, Young is free to return to the Senate as a member in good standing -- unless he is convicted as a result of state or federal investigations.

"Until such time as he is charged and convicted, he certainly is free to run," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who added that Young would be assigned to a committee and would have the privileges of any other incoming member.

Young, a West Baltimore Democrat, declined to comment yesterday but confirmed through a spokesman that he would formally begin his campaign at the June 11 fund-raiser at the Baltimore Brewing Company, a downtown restaurant.

State Sen. John D. Jefferies, who was appointed to Young's seat after the expulsion, is organizing the event. Jefferies said he hopes it will draw 300 supporters.

He said that he knew of no opponents to Young's bid and that the continuing investigations -- even an indictment -- would not likely damage the campaign.

"The community people seem to feel as though he's able to serve them," Jefferies said. "That's what I'm getting from the community."

Ethics investigation

In December, The Sun reported that Young, a state legislator for 24 years, used his office to generate thousands of dollars in fees for his corporations and failed to report those dealings to the legislature's ethics committee.

Among them was a no-bid consulting contract with Coppin State College that paid Young as much as $300 an hour. The ethics committee could identify little if any work Young did for the money.

The committee investigated Young for several weeks before recommending that the Senate expel him, which it did in a 36-10 vote on Jan. 16. He was the first Maryland legislator to be expelled in 200 years.

But the expulsion affects only the current four-year term, which ends in January.

"If he were elected and not convicted of anything, then he's free to serve," said Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch, who advises the General Assembly.

Should Young win re-election this fall, the Senate would have no power to expel him again for the same offenses, Zarnoch said.

A constitutional provision would automatically remove him from the Senate if he were convicted of a misdemeanor related to his public duties or any felony.

State and a federal grand juries are investigating Young's alleged abuse of public office.

From the moment of his ouster, Young vowed to attempt a quick political comeback.

In February, Democratic leaders in the 44th District tried to return Young to his seat, and his allies flirted with launching a legal challenge after the governor refused to reappoint him.

Young, 48, has spent the past few months meeting with supporters and being the host of a radio show on Baltimore's WOLB-AM. He appears to remain popular in the 44th District, which includes some of the city's poorer neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore.

'People don't forget'

"If you go from Pigtown to Bolton Hill to North Avenue to Fulton Street -- wherever you go in the district -- when you bring up who the people want for Senate, they say Larry Young," said Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a 44th District Democrat. "When you're there for folks, people don't forget."

But a few community leaders have expressed concerns over Young's bid for another term, and Mitchell said he does not expect it to go uncontested. Several political newcomers have expressed interest in seeking the seat.

Pub Date: 6/02/98

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