Maryland’s legislative ethics committee announced a rare summer meeting on Monday, a day after a Washington Post story about a complaint filed against Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s) that alleges a conflict of interest.
The complaint, filed in April, raises questions about Vallario’s dual roles as a criminal defense lawyer and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which in 2011 passed a bill intended to make it easier to prosecute vehicular manslaughter cases.
Prince George’s County resident Kenniss Henry says that in advocating for the legislation, she told Vallario many details about her daughter’s 2010 death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver. Vallario’s son, who operates out of his father’s law office in Suitland, provided legal representation to the driver in the criminal case.
Vallario has said that he did nothing wrong. He told The Post that he and his son maintain separate law practices and he was not involved in the defense of the driver.
Del. Brian K. McHale, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, declined to say whether the Aug. 21 meeting that was announced Monday is to discuss the complaint against Vallario. The committee’s deliberations are typically private unless it recommends certain disciplinary actions against fellow lawmakers.
“I’m not going to comment either way,” McHale (D-Baltimore) said. He said the committee can meet outside of the annual 90-legislative session “when there’s something to meet about.”
“We don’t just meet to meet,” he added.