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Senator Currie’s Ethics Still In Question After Bribery Acquittal

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Growing calls for Senator Ulysses Currie to face ethics charges in the Maryland General Assembly despite his being acquitted on all charges in a federal bribery case.

Derek Valcourt has more about the complaints against Currie and the changes his case may spark.

Ethical questions still loom over Sen. Currie’s head. Some argue that his case begs for stronger ethical laws in the state of Maryland.

Sen. Currie did accept payments from grocery chain Shoppers Food Warehouse and in exchange, he did help smooth the way for Shoppers to get favorable deals in Annapolis. While a federal jury ruled it was not an illegal act of bribery, the head of watchdog group Common Cause says it was unethical.

“And so we are calling for the General Assembly to censure Sen. Currie,” Susan Wichmann, executive director of Common Cause, said.

Senate President Mike Miller says the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics will take up the matter as soon as January, investigating whether Currie acted unethically when he had meetings with state officials on Shoppers’ behalf, when he voted on legislation that directly benefited Shoppers, and most importantly, when he failed five years in row to disclose his relationship with Shoppers on financial ethics forms as required.

“It reflects on all of us. Every member of the legislature,” Miller said.

Delegate Sandy Rosenburg suggests Currie’s case may be reason to change the law and require all legislators with outside interests to be up front in meetings with government agencies.

“‘I’m working for so and so, that’s why I’m coming to see you,'” Rosenburg said. “‘I’m not coming to see you as Del. Rosenburg in my capacity working on behalf of my constituents.'”

The head of Common Cause agrees and argues Maryland should post all lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms online.

“So that every Maryland citizen can take a look at what potential conflicts elected officials might have and make their own judgements on that matter,” Wichmann said.

If lawmakers find Sen. Currie’s actions unethical, he could face anything from a simple reprimand, fines to possibly even an expulsion from the General Assembly.

Sen. Currie declined to be interviewed for this story.

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