FREDERICK – The Frederick Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 against a proposal Tuesday that called for prohibiting state elected officials from having sexual relations with employees who are under their direct supervision.
Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr., who initiated the proposal, was the only member who voted in favor of it during a straw poll. The proposal needed three votes to move forward to a hearing in October for the board’s final vote on 2009 legislative priorities.
If passed, it would have been part of a package of proposals sent to Frederick County’s legislative delegation.
“I certainly agree that it’s not a good thing for those sorts of relationships to happen, but I do wonder about the appropriateness of us as a body putting forth how the state delegation operates,” said County Commissioner Kai J. Hagen.
If enacted as part of the state’s public ethics law it would have been difficult to enforce, said Board of County Commissioners Vice President David P. Gray.
In an interview last week, Thompson said he expected the proposal would not be approved at the public hearing.
“I would not be surprised to find that commissioners have been heavily lobbied by members of our [legislative] delegation,” Thompson said, last week. “They do not want to have to consider this.”
Thompson referred to the proposal, which did not include spouses, as “No paramours on the payroll.”
“If an official is going to have an affair with someone, it should be someone who is not on the public payroll,” Thompson said.
His other reasons for initiating the proposal were that other licensed professionals had similar codes of ethics and that affairs between elected officials and those under their supervision stopped officials from effectively doing their jobs. Last week he cited former President Clinton and his impeachment trial as an example.
Thompson also said there was a situation locally that inspired his proposal, but he declined to give names.