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Somerville named ethics counsel to legislators


The General Assembly's top leaders named a veteran legislative staff member to the newly created position of ethics counsel yesterday, giving lawmakers a full-time lawyer to help them steer clear of controversy.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. appointed William G. Somerville special counsel to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics after a task force recommended the creation of the position.

For the past year, Somerville has served as counsel to the task force, which was headed by U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a 3rd District Democrat.

Somerville, 47, has worked for the General Assembly in a variety of jobs since 1979, the year after he received his law degree from the University of Maryland.

Since 1987, he has headed the legislature's bill-drafting service, supervising staff members who translate lawmakers' ideas into the language of law.

In his new position, Somerville will hold mandatory annual ethics training sessions and counsel individual legislators about ethical questions.

The position was created in the wake of a series of ethics #F controversies in the Assembly last year, including allegations that led to the expulsion and indictment of state Sen. Larry

Young and the resignation of Del. Gerald J. Curran, both Baltimore Democrats.

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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