Alston declined to comment on the bankruptcy filing, the existence of which has not been reported before.
“I’m not going to answer any more questions,” the Prince George’s County Democrat said by telephone. Alston also declined to talk about the 2008 lawsuit filed by her former partner, Ara Parker.
Parker and Alston settled their dispute, with Alston agreeing to pay her former partner more than $20,000, the court records show.
Maryland lawmakers, citing the state constitution, stripped Alston of her delegate seat after she was convicted of improperly using state funds to pay an employee of her law firm.
A judge expunged the conviction from Alston’s record after she completed 300 hours of community service. Alston is trying to reclaim her post in an appeal she has filed before Maryland’s highest court, which has scheduled a hearing for Friday.
Alston’s downfall has drawn attention in Prince George’s and beyond. An African American lawyer, she grew up in the county, the daughter of a single mother who struggled to support her and her brother. When she was in fifth grade, two businessmen, Abe Pollin and Melvin Cohen, adopted her class at Seat Pleasant Elementary, promising to pay their college tuition if they finished high school. Alston became one of the program’s stars.
Besides losing her delegate seat, Alston’s license to practice law was suspended by Maryland’s highest court after a client accused her of professional negligence.
Alston filed for bankruptcy in May 2010 as she campaigned for election to the Maryland House of Delegates. She won the race and took office in January 2011.
Eight months later, state prosecutors indicted Alston for seeking to pay $3,560 in wedding expenses by writing two checks drawn from her campaign account. Although the checks bounced, prosecutors said Alston’s crime was that she had attempted to use her political funds for a personal expense.
Alston has said that she mistakenly used a campaign checkbook instead of her personal checkbook, an explanation that prosecutors have dismissed because she wrote two checks on two separate days.
Alston pleaded “no contest” in the case involving her wedding. The prosecutor’s probe of her spending led to a second indictment, this one because she used $800 in taxpayer funds to compensate an employee of her law firm. Alston contended that the employee was performing government work. An Anne Arundel County jury found her guilty in that case.
Although prosecutors were unaware of her bankruptcy, they said during her trial that her law firm had bounced dozens of checks. “We portrayed all along that her finances were in a shambles,” said Emmet Davitt, the prosecutor on the case.