The Maryland League of Conservation Voters issued its quadrennial scorecard on the Maryland General Assembly this week, highlighting the lawmakers who did best and worst, in the league's view, on a handful of politically sensitive environmental votes.

Overall, the group concluded that the legislature's performance on environmental issues stayed about the same as the results of a similar survey done in 1986, before the last state elections.

But, according to league Chairman Joan Willey, deeper divisions also have appeared, with more legislators registering perfect scores, and more registering zeros.

The purpose of the scorecard, she said, is "to let the voters of Maryland know who the true environmentalists are" by isolating only the tough votes -- not those where compromises are worked out in advance. Some candidates campaign as pro-environment, she contended, but don't follow through on the most contested issues.

The league, the political arm of the state's environmental movement, awarded perfect scores and an endorsement to 21 legislators, 15 of them from the Washington suburbs.

In the state Senate, Montgomery County Republican Howard A. Denis, as well as Democrats Idamae Garrott and Ida G. Ruben, voted pro-environment on the eight votes studied in that chamber, according to the league. The votes covered issues such as reforestation, recycling and regulation of lawn pesticides. Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad (D-Anne Arundel), also had a perfect voting record.

In the House of Delegates, the group isolated seven votes during the past four years as the most difficult for environmentalists. Perfect scores were achieved by Democratic delegates Gary R. Alexander and Joan B. Pitkin, both from Prince George's County; Patricia H. Billings, Dana Lee Dembrow, Jennie M. Forehand, Peter Franchot, Brian E. Frosh, Gilbert J. Genn, and Leonard H. Teitlebaum, all of Montgomery; William C. Bevan, of Howard, and Marsha G. Perry of Anne Arundel.

Of the eight legislators who received a zero rating, seven are from the state's more rural areas, particularly the Eastern Shore. They included Del. Richard F. Colburn (R-Dorchester), who is running for Congress against U.S. Rep. Roy P. Dyson.

Among the assembly's leadership, Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's), increased his environmental voting percentage during the past four years from 36 to 88. Despite frequent clashes with environmental groups, House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. (D-Kent) got a score of 43 this time, double his score in the 1986 study.

Rental Row in Rockville John Philip Sousa Pugh, a challenger in the Democratic primary for Montgomery County Circuit Court clerk, has accused his opponent, Bettie A. Skelton, of underreporting rental costs for her Rockville campaign headquarters. But Skelton's campaign manager called Pugh's claims "misrepresentations."

Pugh, a business consultant who in the past two weeks has intensified his campaign against Skelton, alleges that Skelton's finance reports show she pays $200 a month in rent for the showroom and front offices at the former Miller Buick dealership at 300 North Washington St.

According to Pugh, the fair market rental rate for that commercial space would range from $2,500 to $3,000. Pugh, who said the figures were "based on his personal opinion," said the difference in the actual rent and the fair market value should be reported as an "in-kind" gift on Skelton's campaign finance statements.

But William T. Wood, Skelton's campaign manager, challenged Pugh's claims, saying the rental arrangement was an "arms-length transaction to benefit both parties. There is no surprise or hidden agenda at all."

Skelton was appointed acting clerk last fall by a unanimous vote of the Circuit Court judges to replace the late Howard Smith.

Wood said Skelton's campaign office signed a nine-month lease with the HBW Group real estate firm in January for 1,764 square feet of space in the vacant car dealership showroom. He said the campaign pays monthly rent of $200 plus utilities. Campaign finance reports show Skelton also paid a $500 security deposit.

"We had to do a lot of work to make the property habitable," said Wood, adding that the campaign office was required to obtain a zoning exception from the city of Rockville and secure occupancy and sign permits for the property.

In a press release, Pugh, a former bailiff and banking official, said that Skelton's campaign headquarters "are leased to her by one of her supporters." But Skelton and Wood both denied that HBW, Vernon Miller Sr., the property's owner, or the principal owners of HBW were contributors to her campaign.

Ralph Williams, senior vice president of HBW, said that although the rent charged Skelton is "less than {the property} is worth," the owner agreed to the arrangement for security reasons. Williams said none of the firm's principal owners "have given a nickel to Skelton's campaign."

-- Veronica T. Jennings