Acting Maryland Gov. Blair Lee III originally planned to spend his New Year's weekend deciding whether to grant former Baltimore County executive Dale Anderson a limited pardon on his 1974 political corruption conviction.
Then, Friday afternoon, he changed his mind. "Someone called up about it and I realized I wasn't going to do it," he said yesterday.
"What [Anderson] wanted was an official pat on the back," Lee explained. "Which is all very nice, but if I did it I would doubtless be criticized by all the pundits of the contemporary scene. The beating I would take is not at all equal to the little he would gain from it."
Anderson, who served 13 months in federal prison and is on parole until April, is not the only former official, beleaguered politician, or citizen complainant to offer the outgoing governor nor the chance to grant a favor in recent weeks.
In fact, Lee said yesterday, he has been Beseiged with requests to risk his political reputation since his Sept. 12 primary loss to Gov.-elect Harry R. Hughes.
"You would'nt believe how many strange and wonderful requests I've gotten from people the last few weeks who think that because I'm a lame duck I don't give a damn about anything," Lee said.
"Well," Lee said indignantly, "I'm going to be governor until high noon on Jan. 17, and until then I intend to fulfill my responsibilities."
"And after high noon on Jan. 17," Lee added, "I really won't give a damn."
Anderson, Lee said, made his request several months ago, hoping that an official pardon would help establish him in his new real estate business in Townson.
"I sent if through the mill," Lee said, "and Friday I got the report back from the [parole and probation] commission. They didn't recommend anything, but they tended to throw cold water on the whole thing."
A governor's pardon would have allowed Anderson to regain his voting rights and the right to run for office, Lee explained, but Anderson will regain those rights anyway when his parole ends in four months.
"It's just a matter of him being patient a little while longer," Lee said.
Anderson, 61, has maintained that he is innocent of the conspiracy, extortion and tax evasion charges he served time for, saying he was set up by a group of contractors who received immunity from prosecution for testifying against him. He could not be reached for comment yesterday. CAPTION: Picture, ACTING GOV. BLAIR LEE III . . . "I would be criticized"