Attorney General Francis B. Burch resigned today from a special three-member committee that will recommend whether the state should pay about $19,000 in legal fees for six former aides of suspended Gov. Marvin Mandel.
The aides were represented by privately retained attorneys when they testified before a federal grand jury investigating Mandel.
Burch, who was chairman of the seven-month-old committee, said he was removing himself because of innuendos and "suggestions" in a newspaper article yesterday that his status as a gubernatorial candidate might affect his decision.
Five of the former Mandel aides currently work for Acting Gov. Blair Lee III, who is also running for governor.
In his resignation letter, Burch said the "suggestion (of political motivation) is absured."However, in order to assure that the committee can continue its deliberation and make an appropriate recommendation wholly unencumbered by any such suggestions, I am rejuesting that the Board of Public Works immediately name a replacement for me," Burch said.
The other two committee members are John H. Lewin Jr. and Dale Balfour.
The committee has asked the five Lee aides to release copies of their grand jury testimony. Burch said the committee can recommend the legal fees not be paid if it determines the aides were implicated in Mandel's wrongdoings.
The six former Mandel aides are Frank A. DeFilippo, Mandel's former press aide and a campaign consultant to Lee; Hans F. Mayer, Mandel's former and Lee's current administrative officer; Ronald L. Schreiber, a former Mandel Legislative aide who was named director of the Health Claims Arbitration Office by Lee; Michael Silver, an ex-Mandel lobbyist whom Lee named to the Property Tax Assessments Appeals Board; Maurice R. Wyatt, Mandel's and Lee's patronage secretary, and Frank H. Harris, another Mandel lobbyist who was fired byLee.