During a federal court hearing in Baltimore last week, in which Currie made an appearance, his attorneys revealed that the senator has been diagnosed with "a very aggressive form" of prostate cancer. They said he was being treated for it with Lupron when FBI agents interviewed him in 2008. Evans said the "potent drugs" used to treat the cancer reduced the senator's cognitive abilities and made him "fuzzy."

Evans also said the senator had fallen at some point, injuring his head. A series of MRIs revealed "a mass" in his brain, according to Evans.

As for a blurred line of ethics in Annapolis, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said that's not the case. Some said such a paid arrangement obviously raises red flags.

"As much as I love Ulysses Currie, there are rules in place," said former Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, a Republican who was a member of Currie's committee for twelve years. "We can't just wink at something of this size and scope."

Former Sen. George Della, a Baltimore Democrat, noted that the General Assembly's ethics lawyer is available to discuss concerns about possible conflicts of interest with lawmakers.

"There is a mechanism available," he said.

Currie's corruption trial comes as a number of Prince George's County politicians have faced legal trouble. Former Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife, a former member of the county council, both this year pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

And on Friday, state Del. Tiffany Alston a freshman from Prince George's County, was charged with theft. State prosecutors said she took thousands of dollars from her campaign account to spend, in part, on her wedding.

Such cases fuel voter mistrust of politicians, said Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks, an Annapolis-based polling firm that has conducted polls for The Baltimore Sun.

"Voters generally are in a very cynical mood today," Raabe said. "There's a much more jaundiced eye, and an expectation that bad things are happening across the board."

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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