JULY 23, 2008
A federal agent specializing in public corruption cases says that an influential Maryland state lawmaker used his public office to benefit a large company that he secretly worked for.
Democrat Senator Ulysses Currie, who chairs the powerful state panel (Senate Budget and Taxation Committee) that directs billions of dollars in spending, voted on legislation favorable to a big supermarket chain while he was on the company’s payroll. Currie also received campaign donations from the supermarket chain for which he did “consulting” work.
The information was revealed in a previously undisclosed affidavit for a search warrant made public by the media this week. In it an FBI special agent writes that Currie, who represents Prince George’s County, voted on numerous bills that positively impacted the grocery industry while receiving money from one of the region’s largest grocery store chains and that he used his influence to specifically benefit the company he worked for (Shoppers Food and Pharmacy).
The affidavit also says that Currie used his influence in other business transactions involving the state of Maryland and Shoppers Food and Pharmacy, not just in official legislative procedures. The FBI agent concludes that Currie has taken part since at least 2003 in a “scheme and artifice to defraud” his constituents by using the prestige and power of his office to pass legislation and influence state business favoring the supermarket chain.
Not surprisingly, Senator Currie didn’t disclose that he worked as a so-called consultant for Shoppers in mandatory General Assembly ethics forms. Sadly, his is just one of several high-profile public corruption cases to hit Maryland in the last few months.
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is the target of a lengthy investigation into City Hall spending for steering no-bid government contracts to companies that employed her friends and relatives and Governor Martin O’Malley is being investigated for securing nearly $30 million to build a highway interchange to help a major donor’s commercial project.
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