The Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission says County Council member Derek Fink should not participate in the selection of a new county executive because of his business relationship in Greene Turtle restaurants with Del. Steve Schuh, who is seeking the position.

The commission opinion, released Wednesday, said Fink has a conflict of interest, and "the law prohibits you not only from voting for the applicant, but from any participation in the selection process."

The council is scheduled to interview a field of 16 candidates and vote tonight on a replacement for John Leopold, who resigned as county executive this month.

The ethics opinion is not binding, but if Fink recuses himself, only six council members — three Republicans and three Democrats — would take part in the process, opening the possibility of a 3-3 deadlock along party lines.

Fink, a Republican who is an investor and the district manager for the restaurants in the county, said he will seek a waiver from the commission. He said he does not want his 60,000 constituents to be disenfranchised in the executive selection.

In addition, Schuh said he would consider resigning from the board of directors of the company that manages the restaurants if that would clear Fink to vote. He said each board member, while a 20 percent owner of the management company, invested $100 in the management company.

Both Schuh and Fink are on the board, which employs former delegate James King to run the company as CEO.

Leopold resigned after he was convicted in January of misconduct in office. By law, the council must appoint a county executive to complete his term, which expires in 2014.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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