Evans reiterated the sentiment Tuesday, after Currie's acquittal resolved the federal criminal claims. "There are issues for the General Assembly" to consider, Evans said — "conflict-of-interest issues."
Senate Minority Leader E. J. Pipkin said Wednesday that Miller's decision to refer the matter to the joint ethics committee was appropriate. The Eastern Shore Republican said he would defer to the Senate president on the timing of the committee's action.
Pipkin described the Currie matter as a "personal tragedy" and said it was "way too early" to say what discipline might be appropriate.
Rosenberg, the Baltimore Democrat, said there is a distinction between actions a lawmaker takes to intervene on behalf of constituents and those taken on behalf of an employer or client. He cited the example of a vacant grocery store where he and his 41st District colleagues urged city officials to waive the condemnation costs to the clear the way for redevelopment to improve the neighborhood.
"We go to bat on the community's behalf," he said. "That's a part of the job — to advocate on behalf of your constituents."
But when a legislator is representing somebody else as part of his or her outside work, Rosenberg said, it's the lawmaker's responsibility to disclose that fact. "If what you're doing is appropriate, don't keep it a secret," he said. "You should make it clear to everybody."
Rosenberg said bureaucrats are especially responsive when the lawmaker contacting them is chairman of a committee or a subcommittee overseeing their budgets.
At the time he intervened with state officials for various actions being sought by Shoppers, Currie was chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee — one of the most powerful positions in Annapolis. Among other things, testimony showed that he spoke with the head of the State Highway Administration about Shoppers-related matters, including getting a stoplight installed at a location where the company wanted one.
That official, former highway administrator Neil J. Pedersen, said Currie never informed him that he was intervening on behalf of anyone other than his constituents. Pedersen also said Currie's power over his agency's budget influenced how he handled the senator's requests.
Currie stepped down as chairman after he was indicted, and Miller indicated that he has no immediate plans to reinstate him. He remains a member of the budget panel.
For now, Somerville said, legislators are required to complete a filing with the State Ethics Commission detailing sources of outside income. He said lawmakers must also file specific declarations of possible conflicts of interest, stating whether they believe they can vote on related issues.
In the case of Currie, neither had been filed, Somerville said.
The ethics counsel said the ethics commission can levy civil fines for failures to make proper disclosures. The legislature cannot impose fines, he said.
Somerville said nothing in state law allows criminal penalties for disclosure violations.
Sun reporter Tricia Bishop contributed to this article.