Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel, who "doesn't have two nickels to rub together," according to acting Gov. Blair Lee, today pondered a future described by a possible prison term and neither home nor job to go to.
Lee had breakfast today with Mandel, who was convicted yesterday along with five other defendants on political corruption charges. Lee quoted Mandel as saying that he has no intention of resuming the role of governor between now and Oct. 7, the date he is to be sentenced and, by law, the date he must relinquish the governorship.
Mandel did not say, according to Lee, whether he would resign before Oct. 7. Mandel's wife, Jeanne, asked if the governor would resign before sentencing, replied "absolutely not."
Strolling back to the governor's mansion from lunch in a downtown restaurant today, a casuallyattired Mandel commented: "I have no home. I have no place to go."
He also faces loss of his status as a lawyer through disbarment. Regulations of the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission require that charges be filed agsinst Mandel in the Court of Appeal following his sentencing as a convicted felon. A similar charge would be filed against codefendant Ernest N. Cory Jr., who is also a lawyer.
L. Hollingsworth Pittman, bar counsel (exccutive director) of the Grievance Commission, said that if the Court of Appeals determinded that a lawyer has been convicted of a crime "involving moral turpitude," the offender may be suspended regardless of whether the conviction is being appealed.
Although "moral turpitude" is not defined in the regulatins, the Court of Appeals in 1974 disbarred a lawyer who practiced in the Washington suburbs after she was convicted of mail fraud. Mandel and his codefendants, who were charged with providing over $350,000 in gifts and payments to Mandel in return for governmental action favorable to their interest were each convicted on 17 counts of mail fraud.
Mandel will draw a pension from the state regardless of whether he resigns or is removed from office.
Chris G. Christis, who heads the retirement system for Maryland's state employees, said Mandel will receive onehalf of his $25,000-a-year salary annually for the rest of his life, plus another $2,000 a year as a pension for his 18 years' service in the House of Delegates - a total of more than $14,000 each year.
Christis said state law requires only that a governor serve a full term to be eligible for a pension law prohibiting the payment of pensions" to employees who have been convicted of a felony, Christie said.
Lee, who will become governor in fact whenever Mandel steps down, said it doesn't matter to him when that occurs because "the operation of state government is in my hands. All he is doing is occupying that house (governor's mansion) across the street.
"I don't begrudge him that," Lee went on. "He is a man, at this point, who has no visible means of support. He doesn't have two nickels to rub together After Oct. 7, he doesn't have a roof over his head. If you think I'm out, forget it," Lee said.
Lee, who was named acting governor by Mandel shortly after the start of the go vernor's second trial in federal court in Baltimore, said "the only tangible fact" to come out of their hourlong meeting today was that "he has no intention of withdrawing that designation (acting governor), even though under the law he could come over here and say, 'get yourself across the hall,' (to the lieutenant governor's office)."
Asked about Mandel and the verdict today, codefendant Dale Hess said that "it hit him [Mandel] a lot harder than anyone else. Here's a sitting governor. He has to step down, he has to move out of the mansion, he's gong to be disbarred, he doesn't have anything - not even five cents."
Following a leisurely lunch with Mrs. Mandel and seven members of his staff, the governor returned to the mansion, where he said he was "just trying to relax a little" before deciding what his next move will be.
He was askedif he might go to work for Tidewater Insurance Associates. Which is operated by three of the friends who were convicted with him , brothers William A.and Harry W. Rodgers III and Hess.
Although there was testimony in the trial that Mandel had a standing offer to go to work at Tidewater upon leaving office, the governor angrily denied that today, saying. "That's ridiculous. There never was one (a job offer)."
Except for that stroll to his favourite restaurant over the soon hour, Mandel remained in the mansion today, greeting a trickle of visitors and accepting what Mrs. Mandel described as an overwhelming number of sympathetic telephone calls.
Among the vistors were a number of legislators, administration staff employees and Anne Arundel County Executive Robert Pascal, who has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate for next year.
Although there were outward signs of normalcy at the State House, such as a meeting of the Board of Public Works over which Lee presided, the talk throughout the building was all about yesterday's verdict and the end of the long uncertainty about Mandel's political future.
One Court of Appeals official acknowledged that it would be "ticklish" for the court to act on the disbarment of Mandel because five of the seven judges were appointed by him. "But I'm confident his case will be handled no differently than any other" the official said.
Since the Attorney Grievance Commission was established two years ago the disciplinary process has resulted in the disbarment of eight attorneys each year. The commission has the power to discipline all of the state's 9600 lawyers whether or not they are members of a bar association or are actively practicing law.
Rumors circulated that some key Mandel aides were preparing to offer their resignations to Lee, but the acting governor said he had received none.
While Mandel was pondering his destiny in the governor's mansion, some maverick Democratic members of the General Assembly were calling for his immediate resignation and a formal transfer of power to Lee.
"The transition has got to come," said state Sen. John C. Coolahan (D-Baltimore County). "Why prolong the thing? Why postpone the inevitable? He's had his day in court and the system has convicted him."
"Lee's get this over with once and for all," urged state Sen. Victor L. Crawford (D-Montgomery County). "If the governor says he loves the state, the best thing he can do is resign right away."
Mandel's formal resignation, according to Crawford, would lift the cloud of corruption settling over the administration in Annapolis and allow Lee to make decisions without fear of having them rescinded later by Mandel.