Maryland state Del. Michael L. Vaughn resigned less than an hour before the General Assembly convened its 2017 session Wednesday, citing "ongoing health challenges" in a brief letter sent to House Speaker Michael E. Busch.
"It has been an honor to serve in the House with you and represent the great people of the 24th District in Prince George's County," Vaughn wrote in his letter. His resignation is effective immediately.
The resignation comes as Prince George's County reels from a bribery scandal that has already ensnared a former state lawmaker, two county liquor board officials and two local businessmen.
Affidavits released with a federal indictment last week mentioned a confidential informant who was also a sitting delegate. Court records said federal authorities caught the delegate depositing thousands in cash and promising to get liquor license legislation passed in exchange.
The indictment did not name the delegate, but identified him as a member of the House Economic Matters Committee who cast a committee vote for that bill. Vaughn is the only Prince George's County delegate on the committee who also voted for the bill, state records show.
Vaughn has not been charged with any crime. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Vaughn, 59, joined the legislature in 2003 and, as deputy majority whip, was part of the House leadership team. He is a former investment adviser, a real estate agent and married with three children, according to state records.
On Tuesday, former delegate William Campos pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from business owners. Campos is alleged to have awarded county grants to nonprofits affiliated with the business owners in exchange for cash. Last week, two county liquor board officials and two liquor store owners were charged in the bribery scheme.
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker said he was disappointed by the unfolding scandal. But he said people should be pleased that the investigation rooted out bad actors who will be held accountable for their actions.
Baker, a Democrat, said he made ethics and investigations a priority after he was elected in 2010. His predecessor, Jack B. Johnson, pleaded guilty in 2011 to felony charges of extortion and corruption related to allegations he took bribes from developers and business owners.
"This wasn't an accident. This wasn't stumbled across," Baker said.
Vaughn's departure leaves another seat vacant in the House of Delegates, after the swearing in of a new Baltimore delegate was called off when he was implicated in a campaign finance case.
Gary Brown Jr. had been selected to replace Barbara Robinson, a delegate who was appointed to fill a seat in the Senate vacated by Catherine Pugh when she became mayor of Baltimore.
On Monday, Brown was indicted on charges that he violated election laws by depositing cash into the bank accounts of relatives, who then immediately contributed that money to Pugh's campaign.
Brown, who was an aide to Pugh, could face up to one year and jail and a fine of up to $25,000. After the indictment, his swearing in – which had been planned for Tuesday – was abruptly canceled.
Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.