Andy Harris¿ top staffer keeps her job

Last week it looked like Republican Sen. Andrew P. Harris would have to find a new chief of staff. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller had issued an ultimatum: Either get rid of Kathy Szeliga or tell her to stop running for office.

The Democratic senate president pointed out that Szeliga had a campaign website and was raising money – those activities, he said, put her in conflict with a rule that says no candidates for office can work for the General Assembly.

Harris, who is running for Congress and was asking uncomfortable questions on the Senate floor about lawmaker pensions, called the threat "Chicago-style" politics. Miller denied there was any connection between the two events.

Not so, said Szeliga. She pointed out that she has not yet filed for office. The employee guidelines say staffers must bow out only after filing for candidacy. And her lawyer, Dirk Haire, agreed.

Szeliga wrote a letter to Harris this week saying she will continue to work in Harris' Senate office until she files her certificate of candidacy after session ends in April. At that point she'll resign. Miller was copied on the correspondence.

However, concessions were made. She's taking down the bulk of her campaign website, she's not going to accept any money from lobbyists or political action committees and, aside from a fundraiser set for next week (featuring former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.), she said she won't actively campaign.