Taylor faces investigation for escort

Speaker asked trooper to give ride to secretary

July 27, 2002|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

State prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said yesterday that his office is opening an investigation into whether House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. violated the law by having a state trooper drive his secretary to a political event.

Montanarelli said state law prohibits state employees from participating in political activities while on duty.

The law would not apply to Taylor's secretary, but it would apply to the trooper who drove the car and to Taylor if it were found that he ordered the secretary to go to the event, Montanarelli said.

Montanarelli said that if he were to prosecute, the most likely charge would be misconduct in office, a misdemeanor that would require a finding of corrupt intent. Even if the prosecutor were to bring a case, the law stipulates no penalty for the offense.

Taylor, a Cumberland Democrat, said yesterday that the secretary was off duty at the time, but the trooper was on duty. State prosecutors will interview Taylor on Thursday, the speaker said.

The speaker acknowledged this week that he had a trooper drive the secretary in an unmarked police car to a candidates forum July 18 in Flintstone in Allegany County. Taylor later apologized and reimbursed the Maryland State Police for the $94 cost of the trip.

On Thursday, Paul D. Ellington, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, asked Montanarelli to investigate the matter.

"There is no doubt in my mind the Republicans are doing their best to keep this in the press," Taylor said. "I am going to do my best to get it over with so we can get it out of the press."

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