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General Assembly Panel To Decide If Sen. Currie Violated State Ethics

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)– A powerful state senator stripped of his chairmanship. Now, a legislative committee decides if he violated state ethics.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports on what’s ahead for Maryland Senator Ulysses Currie.

In May 2008, the FBI swooped in on State Senator Ulysses Currie, who worked as a consultant for Shoppers Food Warehouse. In November 2011, Currie left federal court, exonerated of all charges.

“This has been a rough four years, almost four years for my wife, my family and also for my constituents. So this is the greatest moment of my life,” Currie said.

But the battle isn’t over. Currie was found not guilty of all charges in taking thousands of dollars from the supermarket chain. But now a legislative committee will determine if he violated legislative ethics.

The senator zipped by without comment Thursday. And members of the Ethics Committee, meeting for the first time Thursday, had little or nothing to say.

“We’re not commenting,” Sen. Nancy Jacobs said.

“Everything is confidential,” Sen. Jamie Raskin said.

The committee hearings will be closed to the public unless the committee or Currie decide otherwise.That doesn’t sit well with the political watchdog group Common Cause.

“If the General Assembly wants to have faith and credibility in the process, the best way to do that is shine a bright light on it,” Susan Wichman of Common Cause said.

The process is very specific.

“A legislator has their rights. We will present in the case if there is a charge,  how charges are presented,” Del. Brian McHale said. It’s all prescribed by law. They would then have a chance to participate in a very deliberative and fair process. And it’s all prescribed by law. So we have very little latitude.”

Regardless of the Ethics Committee decision, Currie will not be returning to his role as committee chairman.

The next meeting of the ethics committee is yet to be scheduled.

The committee is prohibited from discussing matters related to possible discipline.

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