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Ethics Panel Recommends Reprimand Of Lawmaker

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland legislative ethics panel on Monday recommended the House of Delegates reprimand a lawmaker for trying to change legislation in order to help him get his real estate license back and reduce the interest on $75,000 he owed a fund for improper real estate services he provided to three clients.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics made the recommendation in the case of Delegate Tony McConkey, R-Anne Arundel. The ethics panel also recommended that House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, request that McConkey consider making a public apology “to acknowledge and express regret for his conduct and the dishonor he has brought to the Maryland General Assembly.”

McConkey declined to comment to The Associated Press after session Monday night, as another delegate led him from the floor of the House of Delegates into a lounge adjacent to the chamber.

The House will take up the panel’s recommendation on Tuesday, according to Alexandra Hughes, a spokeswoman for Busch.

McConkey entered into a settlement agreement in 2010 of all the regulatory charges made against him for committing fraud, misrepresentation and false pretenses in the provision of real estate services against three clients, according to the ethics report. The State Real Estate Commission required McConkey to pay $75,000 to the state’s Real Estate Guaranty Fund, or about $25,000 for each client. McConkey’s real estate license has been suspended until he reimburses the fund in full, including all interest and administrative charges.

In last year’s session, McConkey pushed for amendments to legislation that would lower the interest rate he owed, change the repayment and make it easier for him to have his licensed reinstated.

The ethics panel found unanimously that McConkey participated in, drafted, offered, lobbied, and voted for amendments to the bill and “that a clear and direct financial impact would have flowed to Delegate McConkey as a result of passage of the amendments, in the form of thousands of dollars in reduced interest charges, no administrative charges, and possible reinstatement of his real estate salesperson license.”

The ethics committee found that McConkey failed to recuse himself of a direct and personal conflict of interest.

On April 5, toward the end of the legislative session, the House of Delegates approved legislation that included the changes favored by McConkey. Later that day, The Washington Post published an article saying the amendments proposed by McConkey and adopted by the House could help reinstate his Maryland real estate license. The article also noted the small number of people who owed as much money as McConkey to the fund.

That generated concerns about the amendments approved by the House, the ethics report said. McConkey lobbied senators to get the changes approved by the Senate, the ethics report noted.

On April 9, the last day of the session, he approached Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, to ask the senator to support the bill. Reilly told the delegate he did not support the measure due to concerns raised by the newspaper article.

“Senator Reilly stated that Delegate McConkey shouted at and cursed the senator and refused to leave his office,” the ethics report said. “Senator Reilly then called the Maryland State Police, Legislative Security Section, who escorted Delegate McConkey from Senator Reilly’s office.”

Later that day, a panel of House and Senate lawmakers removed the amendments favored by McConkey from the bill, which subsequently passed without the amendments.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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