McConkey is still a practicing real-estate broker in the District. His maneuvering on the bill, first reported last year by The Washington Post, also would have cut interest charges and processing fees that could have saved McConkey and a small handful of other delinquent Maryland brokers tens of thousands of dollars.
The House voted 127-3 to adopt a resolution of reprimand, an admonishment just one step below the censure last year of veteran Prince George’s legislator Ulysses Currie for his failure to disclose outside consulting payments that became the subject of a federal investigation.
Like Currie (D) before him, McConkey was asked to make a public apology. But unlike Currie’s somber tone, McConkey’s on Tuesday took on a combative one that colleagues on both sides of the aisle derided as something less than repentant.
“I do humbly apologize, with great regret, that the ethics committee found that I acted improperly,” McConkey, said, “Not to provide an excuse, but if the body would indulge me, two minutes, just to provide an explanation...”
McConkey, who had admitted “lobbying hard” for the bill to lawmakers investigating his actions, then went on to claim that colleagues had approved the measure with little interference from him. “People thought it was a good amendment,” he said. McConkey also suggested the legislature’s chief ethics adviser had cleared him of any wrongdoing.
McConkey’s defense of what the legislative ethics committee had ruled indefensible left many lawmakers slack-jawed and prompted Baltimore Del. Shawn Tarrant (D) to walk off the House floor while McConkey was still speaking. “Does that sound like an apology?” he asked a colleague before getting up from his chair.
The remarks also drew a terse rebuttal from Del. Brian K. McHale (D-Baltimore), co-chair of the ethics committee.
“I feel compelled to address that,” McHale said. “Anyone with a clear mind… would have clearly known…that it was an act of misconduct to have presented that amendment and to have lobbied both houses to have it passed ... I would not want anyone to anyhow misinterpret the advice that the ethics counsel gave.”
Three Republicans voted against the reprimand, including Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel). Dwyer was the only lawmaker to speak on the resolution. He dryly said he was “honored that we all care so much about our oath that we’re going to do this to our fellow member.”
Afterward Dwyer said he was not defending McConkey but voted no “to point out the hypocrisy ... We have lawyers who regularly pass legislation in their name, that they financially benefit from. It’s hypocrisy to do this selectively when we ought to be calling people out on a regular basis.”