State says computer used to spread rumors is secured
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and his wife, Catherine, today walk outside City Hall, where the couple denounced rumors of infidelity spread by an aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (Sun photo by Christopher T. Assaf / February 9, 2005)
- 1982: Worked for National Conservative Political Action Committee.
- 1985: Worked on unsuccessful lieutenant governor's campaign of Richard Viguerie, a conservative, in Va.
- 1992: Ran to become Republican delegate to national convention. Would have represented Pat Buchanan.
- 1995-2003: Worked in Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s 2nd District congressional office in Lutherville. Was district representative/legislative assistant, paid $46,600 a year.
- Jan. 15, 2003: Appointed as an executive aide in the governor's office. State officials said he never officially worked for either the Human Resources or Juvenile Services department but could have been detailed to those agencies.
- June 2, 2004: Moved to Maryland Insurance Administration. Earned $72,453 as director of communications.
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For the first time, Redmer responded to questions about ex-employee Joseph F. Steffen Jr., testifying at a budget hearing in Annapolis.
Steffen cleared his desk Feb. 9 after acknowledging that he posted messages and exchanged private e-mails on a Web site, discussing rumors - denied by O'Malley - about the mayor's marriage.
A former congressional aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Steffen worked at two other state agencies before becoming communications director with the insurance administration.
Current and former employees at the Department of Human Resources and Department of Juvenile Services said Steffen compiled lists of workers to be fired and operated outside normal channels to communicate with the governor's office.
Yesterday, Del. Peter Franchot, a Montgomery County Democrat and vice chairman of an appropriations subcommittee, questioned why 50 of 288 employees at the insurance agency had been replaced since Ehrlich took office.
Redmer said Steffen was not involved in hiring and firing at the administration.
"People come and people go," Redmer said, adding that the insurance administration looks for candidates with specific expertise. "We don't have the opportunity, even if we wanted to, to be a dumping ground."
Redmer said e-mails and other communication on Steffen's work computer have been "reproduced" and are being sorted by an assistant attorney general. They will be forwarded to Jervis S. Finney, legal counsel to Ehrlich. Finney is conducting an investigation on the governor's behalf about Steffen's actions.
In a letter to Finney last month, Franchot asked whether the lawyer felt "any conflict in investigating Mr. Steffen," because of contact he might have had with the aide.
Finney said yesterday that he remembers returning a few telephone calls from Steffen months ago. He said he was not involved in coordinating or overseeing any activities Steffen was engaged in.
Staff writer Andrew A. Green contributed to this article.