ANNAPOLIS – The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics on Thursday released its unanimous recommendation to censure Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George’s, and remove him from all positions of senate and Democratic leadership, aside from his standing committee assignment.
A federal jury found Currie not guilty of receiving approximately $245,000 in bribes from Shoppers Food Warehouse in November. Currie’s legal defense: he wasn’t smart enough to pull off such a scheme.
The ethics panel held closed-door deliberations to advise if Currie should be punished for his failure to disclose his public relations consulting for the supermarket chain while performing legislative work on their behalf.
“Senator Ulysses Currie has a long and generally proud history of service in the Maryland General Assembly,” reads the report, before citing the senator’s “numerous violations of the Maryland Public Ethics Law.”
The committee did not find Currie’s conduct intentionally malicious; however, given many members’ knowledge of his work with Shoppers and his “long history of making errors on his financial disclosure statements, general disorganization, and lack of attention to important details in matters under his consideration.”
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. is also encouraged in the report to urge Currie to make a public apology before the Senate.
“I commend the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics on their thorough and deliberative work, resulting in the bi-partisan unanimously supported report we received today,” Miller said in a statement.
The panel’s recommendation comes on the heels of a House bill hearing dealing with changes in government financial disclosure policy.
The Disclosure of Financial Interest Act, heard by the House Environmental Matters Committee on Tuesday, would require legislators to reveal any relevant conflicts of interest not only to the ethics committee, but also to the appropriate government officials or employees they have business dealings with.
The additional notice would make it clearer when a legislator was representing a private individual or agency’s interests and not simply a constituent, said Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, D-Baltimore, one of the bill’s sponsors.