Delegate suggests ending of bid Fellow Republican questions candidacy after '95 disbarment

September 25, 1998|By Tanya Jones and Andrea F. Siegel | Tanya Jones and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Revelations of the troubled background of a House of Delegates primary winner have chagrined county Republican leaders, at least one of whom is calling for William Anthony McConkey to remove his name from the November ballot.

McConkey was the third-highest vote-getter in the District 30 Republican primary last week, behind incumbent Del. Phillip D. Bissett and Edward J. Turner.

But reports of McConkey's voluntary disbarment and revocation of his real estate broker's license have Bissett calling for him to decline the nomination. Helen R. Fister, chairwoman of the county's Republican Party, stopped short of calling for him to step down, saying if he remains on the ballot voters will have to decide if he should represent them.

McConkey has won a seat on the Republican Central Committee in the district. His four-year term will begin in November.

McConkey said last night that he won't pull his name off the November ballot.

"I realize that as a challenger I'm in an uphill battle already," McConkey said from his Greenbelt office. "I believe that if the voters look at the issues that I'm proposing and the plans I'm proposing that I'm more in sync with the district than the incumbents."

He attributed his legal and professional troubles to risky real estate investments that went sour.

One of those deals, an effort to buy land and sell it for development in 1989, caused a business associate to lose $35,000. The associate, Daniel F. Kline of Crofton, McConkey's fraternity brother from the 1980s, filed complaints that led to investigations by the Attorney Grievance Commission and the Maryland Real Estate Commission.

Agreed to disbarment

As a result, McConkey, 34, who owns and manages rental properties, agreed to be disbarred from the Maryland Bar Association in May 1995. He acknowledged in a decree that he "failed to maintain and account for funds entrusted to me." The Maryland Real Estate Commission revoked his broker's license later that year and fined him $2,000.

An administrative law judge hearing the real estate case found that McConkey "was not entirely truthful with his partners" in the land development deal.

McConkey abandoned a contract on 17 acres in Prince George's County without telling Kline, who had invested heavily with him, according to court records.

When Kline found out, he wanted his money back. McConkey first said he had the money, then said he used it to pay for services for the property and then said he used it to pay bills, according to records at the Court of Special Appeals. The court upheld the Real Estate Commission sanctions.

Kline obtained a $45,000 judgment against McConkey, but McConkey filed for protection from his creditors under federal bankruptcy laws.

'Serious stuff'

Bissett said those sanctions and McConkey's failure to disclose them to county party leaders should disqualify him from running for office.

"These are not Sunday school offenses," Bissett said from his State House office. "This is some serious stuff."

Bissett said he met with McConkey on Wednesday night and had a form ready for McConkey to sign to decline the nomination. The deadline for candidates to have their names removed from the November ballot is 5 p.m. today.

If McConkey were to decline the nomination, the Republican Central Committee in the district would have until Oct. 5 to select someone to replace him on the ballot.

An unsuccessful candidate for the House of Delegates in Prince George's County in 1994 and for a special County Council election there in 1997, McConkey bought a house in Annapolis in February and registered for the District 30 House race and the Republican Central Committee race.

With 2,492 votes, he beat out the fourth-place finisher in the House race, F. Gregory Baldwin, a mortgage banker, by 258 votes.

'It's behind me'

With his legal and business disputes exposed by a local newspaper in Prince George's County last year and with Republican Party leaders there aware of the fines and sanctions, McConkey said his background should have come as no surprise to Republicans in Anne Arundel County.

"I didn't try to hide it," he said. "It's old stuff. It's behind me. I think that we shouldn't punish people who try to go into business for themselves."

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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