- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) A Maryland group called for the Anne Arundel County ethics commission to determine whether the county executive should have disclosed that her husband had business ties with a member of an advisory committee for a redevelopment project.
Common Cause of Maryland said Wednesday that Janet S. Owens should have disclosed that her husband, David M. Sheehan, was a legal adviser to T. Conrad Monts, a member of the David Taylor Redevelopment Advisory Committee.
The committee recently voted 15-6 to adopt a redevelopment plan and developers' agreement for the former David Taylor Research Center near Annapolis. Mr. Monts voted for the plan.
Under the project, private developers will turn the former Navy base into an office complex.
Mrs. Owens supports the plan, saying it will provide jobs and tax revenue to the county. Some residents fear the project will bring noise and traffic.
An official with Common Cause of Maryland said the group is looking into the relationship between Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Monts.
"Disclosure laws wouldn't mean very much if they didn't apply to an elected official's family as well," said James Browning, executive director of Common Cause of Maryland.
Robert Poor, a member of the David Taylor committee who voted against the redevelopment agreement, said he did not know of the connection until a reporter told him Wednesday.
"Of course I think it should have been disclosed," Mr. Poor said. "If I had this possible conflict, I would have brought it up at the first meeting."
Asked whether Mrs. Owens saw any conflict, her spokesman, Matt Diehl, said "absolutely not," adding, "The county executive doesn't know what business interests all the committee members have."
Mrs. Owens' husband said there was no conflict of interest.
"I guess I would have to have someone define for me what kind of conceivable conflict there might be," Mr. Sheehan said.
Betsy K. Dawson, executive director of the county Ethics Commission, said the commission would determine whether such an investigation was needed.
Mrs. Owens submitted her most recent annual financial disclosure statement last month to Miss Dawson. It did not include any mention of her husband's business tie to Mr. Monts.
Mrs. Owens appointed Mr. Monts in December 2000 to serve on the David Taylor Redevelopment Advisory Committee, Mr. Diehl said.
Mr. Sheehan said his work with Mr. Monts pertains to a student housing project at the University of Baltimore, not the David Taylor project.

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