An ethics investigation of state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie got off the ground today in Annapolis as the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics held its first meeting of the 2012 legislative session.
The committee met briefly in public before closing the meeting to deal with the Currie case and perhaps other complaints covered under confidentiality provision in state law.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller had said Wednesday that the committee would take up the Currie case, which flows out of a federal bribery and extortion trial that led to the Prince George’s County Democrat’s acquittal last November. During the trial, Currie's defense admitted ethics lapses but told jurors they should be left to the General Assembly to judge. Testimony at the trial showed that Currie had failed to make required disclosures of outside income he received from Shopper's Food Warehouse, a grocery chain on whose behalf he interceded with state officials who weren't aware of his dual role.
After the acquittal, Miller referred the matter to the ethics committee.
Miller noted that the committee can recommend a range of sanctions including reprimand, censure or expulsion but declined to comment on which he believed to be appropriate. He said Currie would not return to his former post as chairman of the Budget & Taxation Committee, which he resigned after his indictment. He was replaced by Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Democrat who represents Baltimore and Howard counties.
Deliberations of the ethics committee are normally kept confidential unless nine of the panel's 12 members decide to open them up. The panel did not exercise that option.