- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

ANNAPOLIS — A watchdog group yesterday demanded that former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, who was indicted on federal racketeering charges in October, step down as president of the Maryland Injured Workers Insurance Fund (IWIF).

“The shadow is over him,” said Bobbie Walton of the nonpartisan group Common Cause Maryland. “The public has a right to accountability from state agencies.”

Mrs. Walton also questioned the propriety of political campaign contributions made by IWIF, and noted that no other independent state agency has made such contributions.

She called on Mr. Bromwell, Baltimore County Democrat, to surrender his post or be ousted by the board of directors for the quasi-independent IWIF, the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurer, with assets of more than $1 billion.

However, she said Mr. Bromwell should stay on the payroll until the charges against him are resolved.

IWIF officials declined to provide salary figures for Mr. Bromwell, who was appointed in 2002 by former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat.

Mr. Bromwell did not return a call seeking comment.

He received the unanimous support of IWIF’s governor-appointed board of directors in October following the 19-count indictment, which included charges of racketeering, extortion, tax evasion, wire fraud, mail fraud and making false statements to a federal agent.

According to the indictment, Mr. Bromwell and his wife, Mary Patricia Bromwell, conspired with business partners to defraud a state program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities.

The Bromwells received free home construction work worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Mrs. Bromwell received pay for a no-show job at a phony company, the indictments state.

Mr. Bromwell has the support of the nine-member board, which includes three members appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican.

“We just finished the most successful year in history of the company led by Senator Bromwell,” said board Chairman David E. McKew, a Glendening appointee. “I’m satisfied with his performance.”

Mr. McKew said the board has hired an outside attorney who advised that it would violate state employment rules to fire Mr. Bromwell for being indicted. “Once he is convict[ed], that is an offense we can act on,” he said.

The campaign contributions, however, deserve the board’s attention, Mr. McKew said.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said. “If that is the case, I guess the board will review that and decide whether it is appropriate or not.”

IWIF counsel Dennis Carroll said he was unaware of the political contributions and the matter would be addressed.

The contributions also stirred interest among top Ehrlich aides.

“I’ve never heard of any agency doing that,” said Paul E. Schurick, the governor’s communications director. “It is certainly weird.”

Ehrlich chief legal counsel Jervis S. Finney said the contributions “warrant explanation.”

Common Cause provided copies of campaign-finance reports that show IWIF made six donations since 1999.

Contributions in 1999, before Mr. Bromwell was appointed to the agency, included $380 to former Delegate Michael H. Weir, Baltimore County Democrat, and $25 to a state campaign committee for Mr. Ehrlich.

After Mr. Bromwell became IWIF president, the agency in 2004 gave two contributions totaling $105 to the Maryland Defense Counsel Political Action Committee.

The agency gave two $150 contributions — in 2004 and 2005 — to the Building Unions Individual Labor Donations PAC.

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