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Ethics 101

When the chairman of the board that oversees the University System of Maryland came to Annapolis recently to hobnob with top lawmakers on behalf of the state's largest power company, lawmakers were baffled.

The legislature had, afterall, passed a law requiring the university to draft an ethics policy that "prohibits a member of the board from assisting or representing any party in any matter before the General Assembly."

Board of Regents Chairman David H. Nevins said he kept his mouth shut while top executives from Constellation Energy Group chatted with the Senate president, the House speaker and two other Senate leaders about an impending merger. But the lawmakers told a different story.

So how will the Board of Regents handle the matter? The answer came yesterday from Michael Gill, the regent who chairs the board's audit committee, and is therefore responsible to adjudicate any potential ethics infractions: They'll do nothing.

"Right now there is no plan to address the issue," Gill said. "It hasn't come to us. And until it comes to us, I don't see a role for us."

Further, Gill said he's left it to Nevins to decide what course the board's response should take. Nevins said he's invited the director of the state ethics commission to come give a talk to the board about ethics, and provide her interpretation of the policy "looking forward."

Gill said he liked that approach. "If David felt he was in violation of the policy, I don't think he would have conducted those meetings."

By  |  February 20, 2006; 6:04 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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