Panel weighs whether to consider legislators' alleged ethical lapses

July 10, 1998|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

In its first meeting in months, the Maryland legislature's ethics committee reconvened behind closed doors to review taking up outstanding allegations that several lawmakers may have crossed ethical lines.

Sen. Michael J. Collins, a committee co-chairman, shut the doors after announcing the panel would consider the "potential discipline of officials over which it has jurisdiction."

Afterward, he and other members refused to reveal details of the discussion, noting confidentiality rules designed to protect lawmakers whose conduct has been questioned. But sources said the committee went over the procedures to prepare for looking into possible ethical lapses by several lawmakers. Another meeting is scheduled for July 22.

One complaint alleges that Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden and Del. Hattie N. Harrison pushed state grants to a project headed by their campaign strategist.

The East Baltimore Democrats, who deny any conflict, have obtained more than $1 million in state aid for an office and job center that is outside their district. Two community activists have asked for an ethics review.

Questions also were raised about lobbying by Del. Nathaniel Exum, a Democrat who chairs the Prince George's County delegation.

Exum invited the president of the company that employs him to a meeting when county officials presented their legislative agenda.

Committee members did not say whether either matter would be ruled out.

Pub Date: 7/10/98

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