Republican Del. Joseph Bartlett has used taxpayers' money to pay rent to his girlfriend in Annapolis during the past three legislative sessions, according to accounts in the Gazette and the Frederick-News Post.
Payments totaled roughly $30,000, according to the news accounts. Members of the General Assembly can qualify for $120 a day per diems during the 90-day legislative sessions.
Bartlett, the son of Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, has said he was not dating Katharine Hopkins when he began renting from her in 2008, according to the accounts. When a romantic relationship began, he says, he cleared the housing arrangement with a legislative ethics attorney. Rules bar lawmakers from having contracts with family members or business partners -- but do not cover romantic relationships.
Bartlett told the Gazette's Katherine Heerbrandt that "it is possible I did not think all the way through this." And he told Meg Tully of the Frederick-News Post that if he is re-elected he does not plan to continue having the state pay his girlfriend.
Bartlett is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He has represented Frederick County since 1999.