Busch agrees to probe of administration

March 09, 2005|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Saying state employees' lives are being ruined by partisan politics, House Speaker Michael E. Busch said yesterday that he will join the state Senate in appointing legislators to investigate Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s personnel practices -- but only after the General Assembly session ends next month.

Busch said he and other legislators have fielded dozens of calls from career civil servants who were fired by the Ehrlich administration.

He said a bipartisan investigation is necessary to determine the truth of accusations that Ehrlich aides have been dispatched to state agencies to root out workers disloyal to the administration.

"The jobs he's going after in a concerted effort -- no one's seen anything like this before," Busch said. "If that has a place in state government, then we're never going to get qualified employees."

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has said he believes an investigation is warranted after the legislative session ends.

Busch said he was prompted to join Miller's call by documents released last week showing that Joseph Steffen, the Ehrlich aide who resigned after he was caught spreading rumors about Mayor Martin O'Malley, had invoked the authority of the governor's office in attempting to influence personnel decisions.

Administration officials have said Steffen was acting alone and overstepping his authority.

Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said yesterday that the governor has nothing to hide and would welcome a "legitimate review" of personnel policies.

"If the Democrats have a problem with the personnel process in Annapolis, they need to take a long, hard look in the mirror, because it's their process. They created it," Fawell said.

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