Del. Young, County Executive Gardner Defend Original Ethics Bill

They say it’s not ‘weak.’

Frederick, Md (KM)  Two local elected officials are defending an original ethics bill submitted to legislators as part of Frederick County’s Legislative Package for 2017. During Saturday’s edition of “Frederick’s Focus” on WFMD, Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D) said the legislation is not weak as State Senator Michael Hough (R) has stated. “The bill that the county brought forward has never been deemed weak by the Attorney General’s Office. However, the Hough bill has been,” she said.

“It’s totally enforcible, and it actually cures a problem that’s been identified in reality,” said County Executive Jan Gardner (D), who was also a guest on “Frederick’s Forum.”
The original legislation would restrict campaign donations for members of the County Planning Commission who are running for County Council or County Executive. Anyone with an application before the Planning Commission could not make a contribution to a member of the Planning Commission. After an application has been filed, a Planning Commission member who has received a contribution from the applicant may not vote or participate in the proceedings concerning that application.

Senator Hough’s bill require all members of non-elected boards to step down if they open a campaign account,and donations of $500 or more must be disclosed to the Ethics Commission. It would also prohibit campaign contributions from businesses with bids or applications before the county.
“I will tell you that Senator Hough’s bill was put together very hastily. And it was absolutely rammed through our delegation in a very short period of time,” said Young. “The county bill  that has input from citizens was not given the same courtesy. I do believe it {Hough’s bill)  was a poison pill.”
Gardner said had similar comment on Hough’s bill. “I think the whole entire objective was to kill ethics reform in Frederick County, not to advance ethics reform in Frederick County,” she said. “And I believe that’s going to be the outcome.”

During the program, hostess Pattee Brown said there are rumors that Delegate Kathy Afzali (R) will challenge Incumbent Jan Gardner for the job of County Executive in 2018. Brown said Hough’s goal  with this bill is  to boost Afzali chances for beating Gardner in next year’s election.

Gardner defended the original bill. “It’s cures an identified problem. It’s a good bill.  It does have penalties. It does have teeth. {Hough} put in a bill that’s not going to pass. It’s not an effective bill,” she said.
Both bills were heard last year in the General Assembly.


By Kevin McManus