State political corruption prosecutor to stay in office

Robert A. Rohrbaugh says he's 'disappointed' successor has not been named

August 23, 2010|By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun

The state's political corruption prosecutor will not step down in September as planned, but will instead remain in office until a replacement is named.

In a harshly worded letter written this month, State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh said he was "disappointed" that Gov. Martin O'Malley had not moved more swiftly to convene a commission required by state law to help select his successor. Rohrbaugh posted the letter on his website Monday morning.

"It is important that this state have an independent prosecutor who is not an elected politician," Rohrbaugh wrote. "Justice in any democracy can exist only when the people have confidence that decisions are made based upon facts and not perceived self-interest."

Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for O'Malley, said the governor appointed the commission Friday — 15 days after Rohrbaugh wrote his letter.

O'Malley's top legal counsel, Elizabeth F. Harris, replied to Rohrbaugh's letter, saying the governor shares Rohrbaugh's view that an independent state prosecutor is important. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has suggested that the political corruption investigations handled by Rohrbaugh's office could be easily folded into existing prosecutorial agencies.

Rohrbaugh successfully prosecuted a theft case against Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, with a city jury finding her guilty of stealing gift cards from the needy. The office has been asked to investigate campaign spending by Sen. Ulysses Currie, a powerful Senate Democrat from Prince George's County who chairs the committee overseeing Maryland's $32 billion budget.

Rohrbaugh was appointed to his six-year term by O'Malley's political foe, Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.. Rohrbaugh announced in April that he would step down. The state prosecutor can, however, remain in office until a successor is appointed.

O'Malley must select a search committee from names submitted by the Maryland State Bar Association, the Maryland State's Attorneys' Association, the speaker of the House and the Senate president. The final list, from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, was submitted July 20.

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