Nearly a year has passed since word surfaced that a grand jury was probing the connection between a former Maryland state senator and a contracting company selected for some high-profile state construction jobs. The probe apparently continues.
In recent weeks, at least one former colleague of Baltimore County Democrat Thomas L. Bromwell has been subpoenaed to testify. The former colleague confirmed that the questioning occurred in recent weeks and that the focus of the probe appeared to be ties between Bromwell -- and his wife, Mary Pat Bromwell -- and Poole and Kent Co., which has received millions of dollars in state contracts, including a $41 million contract to build a juvenile justice center in Baltimore. Another firm had bid $1 million less.
As first reported in the Baltimore Sun, Poole and Kent, which specializes in large commercial projects, installed the plumbing and ventilation systems in Bromwell's home in 2000. Bromwell belatedly listed a debt to the firm in a 2002 financial disclosure statement filed with the State Ethics Commission.
Bromwell, who resigned his seat in 2002 to head the state's Injured Workers Insurance Fund, was on vacation last week and could not be reached.
Curran Feeling Maligned
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) is angry at Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) for comments the governor's top aides made in a recent Washington Post article.
Curran wrote a letter to Ehrlich complaining about an assertion by Communications Director Paul E. Schurick, who said the governor worried that lawyers in Curran's office were purposely bungling the Baltimore Sun's lawsuit against the governor.
In the article, Schurick said the concerns led to a Jan. 3 meeting between Ehrlich and Curran at which the governor asked him to step aside so he could hire private counsel.
"We felt that the attorney general had a clear conflict of interest," Schurick said in the article, adding, "In the face of a personal appeal by the governor to recognize that conflict, he refused."
Curran has said the governor made no such accusation at the meeting, nor could he logically have done so because the attorney general's office had yet to become involved in the case. Schurick said he stands by his earlier remarks.
Curran addressed the question of a possible conflict in an interview for the original article.
Ehrlich, the state's first Republican governor in a generation, is up for reelection next year. Curran's daughter is married to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D), who is preparing to mount a campaign to unseat Ehrlich.
But Curran said his office has never allowed that to create a conflict. "I would hope that if someone has that perception, they would look at the track record," he said.
Curran's office won the Sun case, which is on appeal.
The political rivals who appear destined to square off for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination now have rival poll results.
This month, aides to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley were circulating results of a survey conducted for him by the GarinHartYang Research Group, which showed O'Malley leading Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan statewide, especially in the Baltimore region. The mayor's margin of support there was shown to be far greater than the support Duncan enjoyed on his own home turf.
"The survey finding is significant," the polling memo said, "because it suggests that Duncan will be hard-pressed to achieve the strong electoral support he requires from Montgomery County to make up for O'Malley's strong showing in the Baltimore region."
Now Duncan allies are circulating their own numbers, from a poll conducted by Harrison Hickman's Global Strategy Group.
This survey also shows O'Malley with a statewide lead. But it suggests that Duncan has a sizable advantage in Montgomery.
"One of the main factors contributing to O'Malley's statewide advantage is the fact that he begins the race better known in the Washington market than Duncan is in the Baltimore market," the polling memo says. "This advantage in name recognition will change as the candidates campaign more widely and begin television advertising."