Currie gets a legal defense fund
With the indictments of local officials here in Baltimore, focus on the feds' investigation into Sen. Ulysses Currie has flagged a bit of late. Nonetheless, his legal expenses apparently remain. The Post's Roz Helderman reports this morning that Currie backers, led by lawyer and pastor Bobby G. Henry Jr., are raising money to help him out.
The state Ethics Commission has established some groundrules for such things: Currie himself cannot solicit the funds, people with a special interest in legislation can't donate, and neither can lobbyists. And the creators of the fund promise to regularly publish the list of contributors.
Currie worked as a consultant for the Shoppers supermarket chain for years without reporting it, earned more than $200,000 from the company without putting it on his financial disclosure forms, and repeatedly contacted state officials to advocate Shoppers' position on various matters without mentioning to anyone that he was on the payroll.
That said, he has not been convicted (or even charged) with any crime, and top lawyers bill the same whether you're innocent or guilty.
But the effort could be problematic no matter how you cut it. The question of who has an interest in the legislature is in the eyes of the beholder (and in any case, would take months for the Ethics Commission to adjudicate). Meanwhile, people can give to this fund during the legislative session, something that's forbidden for regular campaign contributions. And although Currie won't be soliciting the donations himself, the regular publishing of the names ensures that he'll know who's helped and who hasn't. Of course, not publishing the names would be even worse. It's a bit of a no-win situation.