There were more twists and turns this week in the saga of tailgate-gate.
On Monday, College Park City Councilman John Krouse hand-delivered a signed ethics complaint against state Sen. John A. Giannetti Jr. (D-Prince George's) to the Joint Committee for Legislative Ethics, based on the senator's promotion of the tailgate parties he held before University of Maryland football games.
In it, Krouse questioned whether Giannetti's bashes violated laws against public consumption of alcohol and serving alcohol to minors -- something Giannetti says he has never done. The councilman also questioned whether the senator used his clout to procure alcohol donations from local distributors.
"While residents of College Park might expect life in a college town to involve some inconvenience, they have every legitimate reason to expect their state senator to set an example of good citizenship and not to recklessly promote the conversion of public parking lots of the university into a gigantic 10,000-car party zone on game days," Krouse said.
"Senator Giannetti's behavior is inexcusable and ought to be condemned," he added.
Giannetti's initial response to the accusations was to lash out in anger. He told Trish Barba, a reporter for the university's daily newspaper, the Diamondback, that Krouse's "attempts to hurt my reputation have been malicious and defamatory, and he will have to answer for his actions."
This brought an angry retort from Krouse. "Since when does a legitimate complaint about illegal and unethical behavior involving a politician deserve an accusation of 'malicious defamation' when there isn't a single fact of the issue in doubt?" he wrote in a statement e-mailed to reporters.
By Tuesday, Giannetti had toned down the rhetoric, acknowledging in an interview with The Washington Post that he had made mistakes that allowed the tailgate debate to escalate.
While he maintained that he had never offered beer to underage students, Giannetti said he has no doubts now, "taking a few steps away, that I should not have invited students to an event where there was alcohol."
"It sends the wrong message," Giannetti said. "I clearly made a mistake."
Giannetti said there is no reason he can fathom that the dispute should ever have involved an ethics complaint and attributed the passions on both sides to the fact that he and Krouse are "both strong-willed people."
He said he has been throwing the parties for two years, and that they have mostly been small affairs intended to show pride in the Terps. Once he was told by authorities that he could not have alcohol at the events, Giannetti said, he ceased immediately. The final tailgate party, held last weekend, was dry.
"It is a silly dispute," Giannetti said. "We had no intention to break any law. Absolutely none. Our only motive was for people to know that their senator is a rabid Terps fan. The end."
At least for now.
Archivist Disputes Audit
A new legislative audit knocks State Archivist Edward C. Papenfuse for taking part in several transactions involving an atlas that he co-authored and in which he has a direct personal interest.
According to the audit, Papenfuse personally owns the copyright to the Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, which was recently enhanced and reprinted.
The audit found that Papenfuse used a State Archives letterhead to solicit foundation funding to finance the book's reprinting, and grants totaling $100,000 were awarded to the archives for the project.
Papenfuse and his co-author entered into a publishing contract executed in their names that was not provided for review to the Attorney General's Office. The agreement provided for potential royalties after the sale of 3,000 books, the audit said.
"There is, at a minimum, the appearance of a conflict of interest related to this matter," the audit concluded.
Papenfuse contends the audit's assessment was "in error."
In a written response, he said that "the intellectual property of the map book" was his because he wrote and published it 20 years ago on his own time. All additional work was also done on his time, he said.
Papenfuse added that all "monetary benefit" from the book is going to the state. He said that will amount to $60,000 when the press run is sold out.
"Neither the archivist nor any member of his family . . . will receive any money from a gift that the archivist and the donor made to the state," Papenfuse wrote.