Friday, September 12, 2008

FREDERICK, Md. | The Frederick Board of County Commissioners rejected a proposal Tuesday to prohibit state elected officials from having sexual relations with employees under their direct supervision.

Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. initiated the proposal and was the only member in the five-member commission who voted in favor of it during the preliminary poll. The proposal needed three votes to move forward to a hearing in October for the board’s final vote on 2009 legislative priorities.

If passed, it would have been part of a package of proposals sent to Frederick County’s legislative delegation in the General Assembly.

“I certainly agree that it’s not a good thing for those sorts of relationships to happen, but I do wonder about the appropriateness of us as a body putting forth how the state delegation operates,” said County Commissioner Kai J. Hagen.

If enacted as part of the state’s public ethics law, it would have been difficult to enforce, said Board of County Commissioners Vice President David P. Gray.

Mr. Thompson said last week that he expected the proposal would not be approved at the public hearing.

“I would not be surprised to find that commissioners have been heavily lobbied by members of our [legislative] delegation,” he said. “They do not want to have to consider this.”

Mr. Thompson referred to the proposal, which did not include spouses, as “No paramours on the payroll.”

“If an official is going to have an affair with someone, it should be someone who is not on the public payroll,” he said.

His other reasons for initiating the proposal were that other licensed professionals had similar codes of ethics and that affairs between elected officials and those under their supervision stopped officials from effectively doing their jobs. Last week, he cited President Clinton’s impeachment trial as an example.

Mr. Thompson also said there was a situation locally that inspired his proposal, but he declined to give names.

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