By Dan Menefee
The Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics unanimously recommended to censure Sen. Ulysses Currie for failing to report $250,000 in consulting fees he received from Shoppers Food Warehouse while advocating legislation beneficial to the grocery chain, according to the committee report.
Currie, D-Prince George’s, will be asked to make an apology, and he would be stripped of all leadership positions in the Senate, if his fellow members agree to the recommendations.
Currie was acquitted last year of federal bribery charges. Investigators said he used his legislative influence to transfer a liquor license for Shoppers Food Warehouse from Takoma Park to College Park while receiving money from the grocery chain as a consultant. Other charges stemmed from Currie’s efforts to secure traffic lights for Shoppers Food Warehouse locations.
“The Joint Committee concludes that Senator Currie participated in legislation relating to Shopper Food Warehouse during the 2005 Session,” The report said. “He was disqualified from participating due to a presumed conflict of interest.”
The matter was brought before the Ethics Committee because Currie did not report the income as required by Senate rules.
The committee made its decision last Friday, but held off the announcement while the report was finalized for Senate President Mike Miller. He said on several occasions that the full Senate would probably accept the recommendations.
In a statement, Miller said, “I commend the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics on their thorough and deliberative work resulting in the bi-partisan unanimously supported report we received today.”
Committee members Sen. Norman Stone, D-Baltimore County and Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery will read the findings on the Senate floor tomorrow. Currie will be able to respond.
In an effort to prevent lawmakers from violating ethics rules in the future, the committee recommended that both chambers consider a “renewed program of education and enforcement with respect to ethical obligations of it’s members,” the report said.
Currie has been in the Maryland General Assembly for 25 years and is eligible to receive a full pension. Members of the General Assembly receive 66% of their salary as a retirement benefit after 22.3 years of service.