Maryland Senate unanimously votes to censure Currie

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ANNAPOLIS — The state Senate unanimously voted Friday to censure Sen. Ulysses Currie, who failed to report nearly $250,000 he received from a grocery chain.

Mr. Currie, Prince George’s Democrat, apologized to the 47-member chamber shortly before the vote.

“I will not stand here and make excuses,” he said. “I’m a person with flaws and I do have weaknesses.”

Mr. Currie was acquitted last year on charges that he received $245,000 from Lanham-based Shoppers Food Warehouse in exchange for political influence.

He reported the income on tax returns and insisted it was pay for a legitimate consulting job with the grocer but contended he made an honest mistake by failing to report the income to the State Ethics Commission as a potential conflict.

The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics found that Mr. Currie essentially acted as a lobbyist for the company, met often with state officials on its behalf and voted on issues concerning the grocer.

The committee recommended Thursday that the body pass a resolution of censure disapproving of Mr. Currie’s actions, ban him from future leadership roles within the Senate and his party and request that he “consider” making a public apology.

All three recommendations were satisfied Friday.

The committee recommended other changes, including requiring lawmakers to meet annually with ethics advisors, that could be implemented at a later date.

Committee co-Chairman Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr., Baltimore County Democrat, said lawmakers were convinced that Mr. Currie’s conduct was “not intentionally malicious or deceitful.”

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. called Friday’s resolution a “catharsis” and said the chamber is looking forward to moving beyond the issue. He said lawmakers from both parties were satisfied with the penalty.

“He had the whole might of the federal government come down on he and his family, and he was acquitted,” said Mr. Miller, Prince George’s Democrat. “The man stood here and apologized to the body, he was publicly censured and the sanctions were imposed. I’m not certain what else anyone could ask for.”

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