The watchdog group Common Cause Maryland on Wednesday called on the state Senate to move quickly to censure Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) following his acquittal Tuesday on federal corruption charges.
Though his defense lawyers argued during his six-week trial that Currie did not commit federal crimes, they acknowledged his work for Shoppers Food Warehouse at times amounted to a conflict of interest.
Currie failed to disclose his consulting relationship with the grocery chain on state ethics forms for five years.
“Maryland citizens should expect high ethical standards from their elected officials, and the Senate needs to hold its members accountable when they fail to meet those standards,” said Common Cause Director Susan Wichmann.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said immediately after Tuesday’s verdict that Currie, the former Senate budget chairman, would face ethics proceedings in the legislature. Possible penalties include expulsion and censure.
The proceedings are likely to take place in January, after the legislature reconvenes, though they could take place sooner.
Common Cause is also advocating making the financial disclosure forms of all state officials available online. Current Maryland law requires anyone wishing to view the forms to appear in person at the State Ethics Commission in Annapolis and provide their name and address.
Prosecutors alleged that Currie used his Senate office to provide government favors to Shoppers, including traffic light requests, the transfer of a liquor license and development deals. Currie was paid $245,000 during a period of more than five years.