HOUSE OF DELEGATES
GOP's McKee Resigns After Home Is Searched
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Robert A. McKee, a long-serving Republican delegate from Western Maryland, announced his resignation yesterday after authorities, who say they are conducting a child pornography investigation, seized two computers, videotapes and printed materials from his Hagerstown home.
First elected to the House of Delegates in 1994, McKee was chairman of the Western Maryland delegation and sponsored legislation to protect minors from sexual predators. McKee, 58, also resigned yesterday from his post as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, a child mentorship program where he has worked for 29 years.
"For me, this is deeply embarrassing," McKee said in a statement. "It reflects poorly on my service to the community."
The FBI's cyber-crimes unit and the county sheriff's office are reviewing the materials seized from McKee's home Jan. 31, federal and local authorities said.
"No charges have been filed as of this time," Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said.
Mullendore declined to elaborate on what he called a child pornography investigation and said authorities have not searched the delegate's office in Annapolis.
McKee's resignation will take effect at 8 p.m. Monday. He said in his statement that he will cooperate with authorities.
"In the meantime, I have entered treatment," McKee said, without providing specifics. "My primary focus is to get well and stay well. I know this can only happen with the support and prayers of my family and friends and the help of professionals."
The delegate's resignation came after the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported yesterday that local authorities had obtained a warrant to search his home. McKee was at the State House on Thursday morning but skipped a committee hearing that afternoon and was absent from a floor session yesterday.
McKee, who is considered a political moderate, has sponsored bills this year dealing with minors, including the Child Protection From Predators Act and a proposal to collect DNA samples from sexual predators. McKee has sponsored several other sexual offender and child abduction bills in previous years.
For decades, McKee has been involved in youth athletics and children's groups, according to his General Assembly biography. He has served in officer positions in two Little League groups and as secretary of a parent and child center advisory committee.
During the 1970s, McKee was a reservist in the U.S. Navy. He is a former chaplain for the Hagerstown Jaycees and is a trustee and community services chairman at First Christian Church.
"In the long run, I hope and pray that my work in the local community for the last three decades will speak louder than the challenges I now face," McKee said.
House Republicans convened an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the situation. Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (Calvert) said he had not spoken with McKee since news broke about the investigation and said he would not speculate on the investigation.
"It's troubling," O'Donnell said. "But look, in this country, we afford our citizens the right to hear details."
House GOP leaders issued a statement saying the Washington County Republican Central Committee will meet soon to select a replacement.
McKee served on the Ways and Means Committee and was well respected by his colleagues, said Del. Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), the committee's chairwoman.
"He's capable, works well, represents his party and constituents well and is very well liked by the committee leaders in both parties," Hixson said.