- The Washington Times - Friday, July 8, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — House Speaker Michael E. Busch yesterday appointed a committee of four Democrats and two Republicans to join six state senators in an inquiry into the personnel polices of the Ehrlich administration.

Democratic legislative leaders agreed last month to create a special committee to probe accusations that the rights of career civil servants were violated when they were summarily fired after Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was elected in 2002.

Aides to Mr. Ehrlich and Republican lawmakers have said they fear the probe will turn into a witch hunt. But Mr. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. have promised a bipartisan inquiry that will focus on the rights of career civil servants and whether laws dealing with employees in nonpolitical jobs need to be strengthened.

Mr. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, had earlier announced two of the six House members — House Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne A. Jones, Baltimore County Democrat, and House Minority Leader George C. Edwards, Garrett County Republican.

The speaker said he added Delegate Jean Cryor, Montgomery County Republican, in part so there would be one Republican from a suburban district to go along with Mr. Edwards and the two Senate Republican members — Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus of Somerset County and John J. Hafer of Allegany County, all of whom are from rural areas.

The new Democratic members are Maggie L. McIntosh of Baltimore, Anthony G. Brown of Prince George’s County and Galen R. Clagett of Frederick County.

“I think its a good cross section. I think they will take the issue seriously,” Mr. Busch said.

He said he wants a fair assessment of whether there was anything illegal or unethical in the way some employees were fired and whether any changes are needed in the law to protect workers who are performing well in jobs that should not be subject to political pressure.

Democrats have not challenged the great majority of the personnel changes made by Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, after he took office, saying he has the right to put his own people into top administrative and policy-making positions.

But Mr. Busch said yesterday that the governor went beyond that in some cases, especially by firing or trying to fire longtime employees in agencies that have been considered independent bodies, such as the Maryland Insurance Administration and the Public Service Commission.

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