ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland lawmaker told a newspaper this week that his campaign repeatedly misidentified the source of a $50,000 loan it received in 2009 as coming from his law practice’s escrow account.
Del. Joseph Vallario, a Prince George’s County Democrat who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told The Washington Post that he was “shocked” to learn that the loan had been listed that way on campaign finance forms over the past four years and that the money actually came from his personal funds.
“I was really surprised it was recorded that way,” Vallario told the newspaper. “The money was my money. We’re not short $50,000 in the escrow account. … The debt is owed to me personally.”
Escrow accounts usually hold clients’ money and states put tight restrictions on how the funds can be spent. Vallario said he plans to file an amended disclosure report.
The loan has come up at a time when a legislative ethics panel is looking into a separate matter relating to Vallario and his roles as a lawmaker and a private lawyer. The panel met in a closed meeting Wednesday about a complaint filed by a Prince George’s County woman who questioned the lawmaker’s conduct on a 2011 bill to strengthen vehicular manslaughter laws.
Kenniss Henry, whose daughter was killed in a hit-and-run, met with Vallario to lobby for the bill. She has told The Washington Post, which first reported the ethics complaint, that she never would have spoken to Vallario about the details of the case had she known that Vallario’s son, a lawyer who works out of his father’s office in Suitland, would end up representing the driver in court.
Vallario has told the newspaper he did nothing wrong. He said last month that he and his son maintain separate law practices and that he was not involved in the defense of the driver.
Members of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics declined to publicly discuss the status of the panel’s deliberations after meeting on Wednesday.
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