A Plague Upon Our Legislature

Yesterday, a federal jury acquitted State Senator Ulysses Currie of corruption charges. Currie was accused of taking $250 million from Shoppers Food Warehouse in return for legislative favors including development deals, traffic light requests and a liquor license transfer.

Currie, who a the time of the allegations, chaired the powerful Senate and Budget and Taxation Committee, failed to disclose the relationship on ethics forms, but did report the income to the IRS.

Members of Maryland’s political class–including former governor Bob Ehrlich–paraded through the court room to tell the jury about what a wonderful but stupid and disorganized man Currie is.

Currie’s lawyers also argued that his work for Shoppers was “a legitimate consulting arrangement but acknowledged there had been some conflicts of interests at times.”

Officials with State Highway Administration and Department of Transportation testified to. refusing to bow to Curries demands.

If a politician uses a position of power to procure sweetheart deals for a company that pays him a quarter of million dollars does not constitute bribery, then what the hell does?

Shortly after his acquittal Currie said the jury’s decision was “a great outcome” for the General Assembly. Asked what he would do differently to avoid another situation like this Currie replied, “I have no idea, I don’t know.”

So the powers that be–looking at you Mike Miller–appointed a man who isn’t all that bright to run the committee that writes Maryland’s budget and tax policies.

The only conclusion left for citizens who have half a brain is that the General Assembly is either corrupt or completely incompetent.

More likely a combination of both.

Len Lazarick’s commentary at Maryland Reporter sums it up best

If what Currie did is acceptable to the Senate, then the body accepts corruption. They should stop filing their useless financial disclosure forms, and their conflict of interest disclaimers.

The members of the Joint Ethics Committee have the whole trial record taken under oath in federal court. His expulsion may be too harsh for them to swallow. But if Currie’s behavior is acceptable, then the whole place is suspect.

Curries needs to go and the Democratic majority, which controls the Senate, should expel him posthaste. If not, then it will be crystal clear to the citizens of Maryland that the sclerotic institution does indeed accept corruption.

Anything less will prove they are willing to look the other way to protect one of their own.

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