Lt. Gov. Brown calls Currie 'man of strong integrity'
Attorneys for state Sen. Ulysses Currie called Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to the witness stand Monday morning, where Maryland’s second-in-command testified that Currie had been a mentor to him both professionally and personally.
“Senator Currie has a reputation of being a good guy -- the nicest guy, that’s what people always say… the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” said Brown, who's frequently mentioned as a 2014 gubernatorial candidate. He described Currie as a “very caring,” yet disorganized legislator.
“He’s a man of strong integrity and conviction and beliefs,” Brown said.
The testimony, which lasted roughly 10 minutes, continues a theme in Currie’s defense, which has called current and former politicians as character witnesses for Currie. Many claim that the 74-year-old senator is endlessly friendly, but not particularly bright, not pulled together. Legal experts claim the strategy amounts to an “I’m an idiot defense” that asks the jury to believe that Currie wasn’t aware his actions were illegal.
Currie is accused of using a consulting contract with Shoppers Food Warehouse to mask an extortion scheme, in which he traded legislative favors for $245,000 over a five-year period. He neglected to list the work on legislature ethics forms, which his attorneys have blamed on a scatterbrained nature.
Currie has denied the allegations and said the contract was an innocent, professional endeavor. When questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Gavin, Brown said he didn’t know about the work, and called the ethics form disclosures an important requirement for legislators.
Brown, who became lieutenant governor in 2006, managed Currie’s 1994 election campaign and shared a ticket with him four years later during his own run for a position in the House of Delegates. They’ve remained friends ever since, Brown said, with Currie meeting his parents and attending the christening of Brown’s daughter.