Following former Baltimore Del. Cheryl Glenn’s guilty plea to taking bribes in exchange for introducing legislation, it remains unknown to the public who made the payments that have Glenn facing a likely federal prison sentence.
Their identities weren’t included in her plea agreement, and federal prosecutors have not revealed their names or even the nature of the investigation in court proceedings. And the Maryland attorney general’s office denied a public information act request for the Democratic delegate’s emails regarding the bills she introduced in exchange for the bribes.
The Baltimore Sun asked for messages sent to and from Glenn’s legislative email account containing keywords related to the bribes. Glenn was paid $35,000 to introduce legislation on behalf of an out-of-state medical marijuana company, and for a local methadone clinic owner seeking a liquor license on Harford Road.
The attorney general’s office provided only copies of benign emails about community events and constituent concerns.
It withheld 49 emails, citing the legislative privilege.
“Office of Attorney General has advised legislators that any public records related to their legislative activities are absolutely privileged,” Assistant Attorney General Sandra Brantley wrote.
She said the legislative privilege goes beyond the Maryland Public Information Act, and extends even to a criminal trial. She cited the criminal case against former Democratic City Councilwoman Helen Holton of Baltimore, which she said was dismissed because the Office of the State Prosecutor’s case relied primarily on her legislative actions.
In the 1970s, former Democratic Del. Leonard S. Blondes from Montgomery County was charged with bribery and embezzlement. His case was appealed and retried at least once because the Maryland Court of Appeals said the state’s attorney couldn’t used evidence protected by legislative privilege. Blondes was eventually convicted on other evidence.
“A court cannot compel a legislator to answer for or defend legislative actions in a non-legislative forum," Brantley said.
One of Glenn’s emails that was released appears related to the bribes: She forwarded a photo from her personal email account to her legislative account that depicts a document that seems to describe the project for which Glenn accepted one of the bribes.
The document describes an “upscale Indian restaurant” that would be open seven days a week and seat up to 44 people. A “community benefits” description said the restaurant would “employ individuals who have successfully completed treatment at the methadone clinic as a form of workforce development.”
According to Glenn’s plea, she accepted money in order to introduce liquor license legislation for the owner of a methadone clinic who said he wanted to open a new business in the 5300 block of Belair Road.