Discipline urged for Maryland lawmaker

Maryland’s House of Delegates will consider disciplining one of its own on Tuesday for nearly passing a law last year that would have directly benefited the lawmaker’s own bank account, according to a legislative ethics committee.

Anne Arundel County Del. Tony McConkey (R) last year authored, voted for and saw passage by the House of Delegates of a measure that could have helped re¬instate his Maryland real estate license, which he lost in 2010 after the state determined that he had preyed on homeowners in foreclosure. It also would have reduced fees and penalties he owes to the state by several thousand dollars.

McConkey’s efforts, first reported by The Washington Post, later failed in the final days of the state’s 2012 legislative session. They also became the subject of an ethics complaint filed by a fellow Anne Arundel County Republican.

A 9-page opinion stemming from that complaint was released Monday night. In it, members of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics said they found the measure McConkey authored would have directly benefited his personal wealth.

The committee recommended a rare resolution of reprimand and that the House consider asking McConkey to make “a public apology to the members of the House of Delegates to acknowledge and express regret for his conduct and the dishonor he has brought on the Maryland General Assembly.”

Asked about the opinion Monday night as he entered the House chamber, McConkey said he thought he had been in the right but would abide by the ruling.

“Yeah. It was an amendment to a bill, I thought I was in the right. I’m going to apologize.”

In 2010, McConkey was ordered to pay $75,000 for what an administrative law judge called “fraudulent and unethical” behavior in real estate transactions. In one instance, the state found that McConkey promised to help a woman keep her home, then didn’t return her calls, bought her property in foreclosure and sought to evict her.

Under the measure inserted into the bill by McConkey, he and others could have entered long-term payment plans to replenish a state fund used to compensate consumers who suffer financial losses as a result of actions by Maryland real estate professionals. Three of McConkey’s clients were each paid the maximum $25,000 from the fund, making his debt to the state fund the largest of any real estate licensee in the five years preceeding the 2010 decision.

At the time McConkey sought to pass the measure last year, the Maryland Real Estate Commission said it had no evidence McConkey had paid any of the balance due.

Under an agreement with the state, his license to sell homes in Maryland was suspended for one year. But commission officials said he would need to pay the entire amount due before seeking reinstatement of his license.

McConkey’s measure would have halved the 12 percent interest rate on his debt to th state, and eliminated another 16-percent charge for processing the fee. It also would have allowed McConkey to regain his license if he began a payment plan.

McConkey is still a licensed real estate broker in the District.

After the Washington Post first reported on McConkey’s amendment, the state Senate refused to accept it. The measure was struck from a bill that lawmakers said had to pass. Without it, the Real Estate Commission, which licenses the state’s 41,000 real estate brokers and other industry professionals, would have ceased to exist.

Sen. Edward R. Reilly (R-Anne Arundel) filed the complaint last April after he said McConkey cursed at him in a heated exchange urging him to support the measure.

Reilly said Monday he took no pleasure in the result.

“I’m never pleased with this kind of thing. This is a black mark on the entire General Assembly. The public has a poor attitude about elected officials in general, and this just supports the stereotype.”

Staff writer Kate Havard contributed to this report.

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.
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