One year after the expulsion of State Senator Larry Young and the forced resignation of Delegate Gerald Curran, little has changed in the Maryland General Assembly. Although the legislature has passed new ethics legislation, based on the recommendations of a blue ribbon panel, the lines between private interests and public officials are so blurred as to be nonexistent.
Over a period of three weeks, The Baltimore Press has examined financial disclosure filings of legislative leaders’ and Baltimore area Senators and Delegates. The filings reveal overwhelming conflicts of interest that are accepted as part of doing business in Annapolis. This series will describe some of those conflicts of interest, and it will conclude with a listing of each Baltimore area legislator’s publicly disclosed conflicts of interest.
The Chairs of the General Assembly’s two fiscal committees, Sen. Barbara Hoffman and Del. Howard “Pete” Rawlings, are employed by entities that receive funding from the State. Hoffman, as Chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, and Rawlings, as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, have extraordinary powers over the minutia of the State Budget process. Next to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, they are generally believed to be the most powerful members of the Legislature.
In her private life, Hoffman, a longtime legislative activist on behalf of State funding of private colleges and universities, develops
educational policy as an employee of the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth at the Johns Hopkins University. Rawlings, a former math professor, now is the Assistant to the President of Baltimore City Community College. Both legislators have assisted their
Rawlings also has been an outspoken opponent of plans to build the Wyndham Hotel at the Inner Harbor East, a project that has a direct impact on the interests of BCCC. During last year’s legislative session, he sponsored legislation aimed at blocking the hotel’s construction. BCCC owns a [MISSING]
current employers through previous actions in the General Assembly.
In 1993, Hoffman was an advocate for the Fr. Joseph Sellinger Program, which provides State aid to private colleges and universities, including Hopkins. In 1995, she was the primary Senate sponsor of a bill to create a State bond debt for $2.2 million worth of repairs to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins. In 1994, she co-sponsored a measure that provided $2.7 million in bond funding for construction of buildings for Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering.
Hoffman staunchly defended her position with Hopkins. In a telephone interview, she said that she has not voted on Hopkins-related bills since she has taken her job with Hopkins. “She has done everything over the last four years to make sure there is not a conflict,” said Hopkins spokesman Steve Libowitz. “She was concerned early on about a conflict, which is why she stayed away from public institutions.”
Rawlings was the principal leader in a successful effort to have the State take over Baltimore City Community College, the Northwest Baltimore institution that had suffered years of fiscal neglect as an agency of the City govempient. Under Rawlings leadership, State assistance has brought a dramatic turnaround at the school. Throughout the time of the reconstitution of BCCC, Rawlings was employed at the institution either as a teacher or administrator. He has not disqualified himself from voting or deliberating on matter concerning his employer.
parcel of Inner Harbor land that nas been offered for sale by the college to a series of developers who also have planned to build downtown hotels. One of the proposals for use of BCCC’s downtown land was a direct competitor of the Wyndham in a hotly contested competition for City financial assistance.
Dr. James T. Tschechtelen, President of BCCC defended Rawlings’employment. According to Tschechtelen, Rawlings “is not technically employed by the college” during the legislative session because he takes an impaid leave of absence. “Secondly, he is not our legislative lia- son,” Tschechtelen said.
“A large number of African- Americans work in the government,” Rawlings said. “If they [meaning African-American legislators] could not work in the public sector, they would be barred from participating.”
Both of the fiscal chairs have spouses who work for government assisted agencies. Hoffman’s husband is an employee of the *Housing Authority for Baltimore City. The Housing Authority is a hybrid agency, funded by the federal government and operated by the City. Its director, Daniel Henson, is an appointee of the Mayor, who each year relies upon Hoffman’s committee for a substantial package of State aid. Rawlings’ wife is a physician affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical System, which likewise relies on the State for significant assistance.