Disclosures opposed by state's attorneys

April 26, 2002|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

About 500 assistant state's attorneys across Maryland may have to start filing financial disclosure statements, despite strong opposition to the requirement by their bosses.

Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly argued against the requirement at a State Ethics Commission meeting yesterday. The commission opinion requiring the statements was issued in October.

Cassilly said Maryland law requires elected state's attorneys to file financial disclosures but not their subordinates. He said most of Maryland's 24 state's attorneys oppose the requirement.

"The law does not cover assistant state's attorneys," Cassilly said. "We're very concerned about this."

Charles O. Monk II, chairman of the ethics commission, said members will review the law once more before issuing a final decision.

"The commission is going to take a look at this thing, make a determination and give the state's attorneys time to get their house in order," Monk said.

Questions about whether assistant state's attorneys should file financial disclosures arose in 1999, when the county attorney for Baltimore County asked the ethics commission for an opinion because state law appeared to be ambiguous.

The General Assembly subsequently attempted to clarify state law by exempting assistant state's attorneys in legislation last year, but the governor vetoed the bill.

The commission then issued an opinion last fall stating that the assistant state's attorneys would be required to file the disclosures.

The panel said those affecting state policy, including assistant state's attorneys who are involved in plea bargains, should be required to file disclosures to guard against conflicts of interests.

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