After more than a year of dunning notices and embarrassing publicity, Marvin Mandel wants to pay the state of Maryland for the furnishings he took when he left the Governor's Mansion. Nobody will take his money.
Earlier this week, Jeanne Mandel, the former governor's wife, told a state official she would send him a check for nearly $3,200 to pay for the missing items and end the controversy.
Once the new governor, Harry R. Hughes, an avowed political enemy of Mandel, heard of the plan, he ordered state officials to refuse to cash the check until he can review the legality of the transaction.
"I question whether any state employe, I don't care who he is, has the right to take state property and say he'll pay for it," Hughes said in an interview last night.
Mandel took the furnishings -- two chairs, a sofa, two desks, a bed, night table, chest and floor lamp -- after he was forced to leave the 54-room mansion because of his conviction on political corruption charges and suspension from office in October 1977.
State officials who were conducting an inventory discovered that the furnishings were missing and negotiated a price for them -- $3.187.70 -- that Mandel agreed to pay, but he withheld payment claiming he was too burdened with legal expenses.
Mandel's conviction was overturned by a court three weeks ago. Jeanne Mandel told a state official this week she would make the payment after her husband receives more than $30,000 in back pay due him as a result of the court ruling.