Griffith to announce bid for Maryland Senate seat held by Currie in Prince George’s district


Melony G. Griffith (Courtesy Melony G. Griffith)
October 2, 2013

Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George’s) said Wednesday that she plans to run next year for the Maryland Senate seat currently held by Ulysses Currie, the chamber’s former budget chairman who was censured by his colleagues last year in an ethics case.

Currie (D-Prince George’s), who remains popular in Annapolis, told The Washington Post in January that he had been urged to run again by his constituents and plans to seek another term.

“I guess all’s fair in love and war,” Currie said in a brief interview Wednesday.

Griffith said in an interview that she considers Currie “a friend and a mentor” and has decided to run regardless of who else might file for the District 25 Senate seat by the February deadline.

“It’s not an affront to the service that has been provided,” Griffith said. “It’s a desire to serve.”

Griffith, who served for four years as chairwoman of the House delegation from Prince George’s, said the district has a history of sending “strong and talented” senators to Annapolis, including Currie. She also cited Democrats Beatrice B. Tignor and Albert R. Wynn as examples.

“It is my hope I will be able to build upon the legacy,” said Griffith, who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1999 and was among those mentioned in recent months as a possible running mate for Douglas F. Gansler (D) in his 2014 gubernatorial bid.

Griffith, a member of her chamber’s Appropriations Committee, indicated her campaign would focus on job creation, economic development, education and public safety. She plans to formally kick off her bid at an event Oct. 15 in Largo. The Democratic primary is in June.

A press release Griffith plans to issue later Wednesday includes praise from Gerron S. Levi, a former Prince George’s delegate and county executive candidate, who says Griffith “has demonstrated that she will fight for what she believes is best for our community.”

In 2011, Currie was found not guilty on all charges in a federal corruption case in which prosecutors had accused him of taking more than $245,000 in bribes from two grocery chain executives in exchange for government favors.

Currie maintained that the payments from Shoppers Food Warehouse, which he failed to disclose on state ethics forms for five years, were part of a legitimate consulting arrangement.

After his acquittal, Currie’s case was examined by a legislative ethics committee, a process that led to a unanimous vote by the Senate last year to censure him for ethical lapses that came to light during the trial.

In November, Currie agreed to pay $10,000 to settle separate complaints brought by the Maryland State Ethics Commission. The complaints centered on Currie’s failure to disclose his consulting work on forms required of legislators.

In a previous interview, Currie said he considered his ethics troubles — which became public after an FBI raid of his home in 2008 — to be behind him.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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