By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun
8:22 PM EST, February 6, 2012
Prince George's County Sen. Ulysses S. Currie attended a closed-door meeting of the legislature's ethics committee Monday, making his first appearance before a panel expected to recommend whether he should be punished for failing to report income on financial disclosure forms.
Currie, a Democrat, was in the hearing room for about four hours. He declined to comment as he left. Joseph F. Murphy, a retired Court of Appeals judge who is representing the senator before the panel, said he expects a recommendation on Currie's fate "soon."
A federal jury found Currie not guilty of federal bribery charges in November in a case in which he was accused of securing favors for a grocery chain in exchange for $245,000.
During the trial, defense attorneys conceded that the senator did not report the payments for consulting work on his annual financial disclosure forms. They said the oversight was an ethical lapse more appropriately considered by the legislature and did not amount to criminal wrongdoing. A federal jury agreed.
Now the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, a panel made up of six senators and six delegates, is charged with determining whether the senator should be punished. The panel could recommend actions including reprimand, censure or expulsion. The committee must send a written report to the Senate, which would then vote.
Members of the panel shared little about the proceedings Monday after the committee adjourned about 5 p.m. "You know I can't comment," said Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Harford County Republican, as she walked out.
"We are sworn to secrecy," said Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat.
Del. Brian McHale, the House co-chairman of the committee, said the panel expects to meet again Tuesday after the morning's House and Senate sessions adjourn. Currie is not expected to be at that meeting.
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