Md. Senate expels Young

January 17, 1998

ANNAPOLIS (AP) - For the first time in two centuries, Maryland lawmakers expelled one of their own Friday, ousting Larry Young from the Senate for violating state ethics laws and using his public position for private gain.

The 36-10 vote - four votes more than the number required for expulsion - came after more than four hours of sombre but emotional debate in which the Baltimore Democrat admitted to technical violations of ethics laws but denied doing anything illegal.

The vote broke down largely along racial lines with only two white senators - Democrat Brian Frosh of Montgomery County and Republican Christopher McCabe of Howard County - joining Young and seven of his black colleagues voting against expulsion.

A second resolution to censure Young passed 46-1 with only Young voting against it.

Despite the racial division of the vote, race was not raised in the floor debate. Young's supporters argued that expulsion was too extreme for his alleged violations and that the Senate rushed to judgment.


Before the vote, Young offered a point-by-point defense against allegations raised by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

''Nothing willful, nothing with intent, just made some mistakes,'' Young said.

He complained of being denied his right of due process and of not being given the opportunity to make his case.

Sen. Michael Collins, D-Baltimore County, told Young the ethics committee gave him all the time he needed and allowed him to bring lawyers and witnesses with him.

''...Senator, you have had due process,'' he said.

A report issued Monday by the ethics committee said Young, a lawmaker for 23 years, had ''brought dishonor'' on the legislature by illegally soliciting and accepting gifts, including a $24,800 Lincoln Town Car from an ambulance company that receives money from the state. The committee also found he was paid tens of thousands of dollars by Coppin State College for performing limited duties and did not report potential conflicts of interest as required by law.

The committee's review was prompted by articles last month in The (Baltimore) Sun detailing a series of possible ethics law violations.

During almost three hours of give-and-take with Collins, Young said he worked hard for the $34,500 from Coppin State. He said he has money in a bank account to pay for the car, which he said was loaned to him by Willie Runyon, a friend and former employer.

Young, who headed a finance subcommittee on health care, pressed hardest on the committee's conclusion that payments of more than $100,000 for consultant work from a health care company were so excessive they amounted to a gift.

Young said he and his company, LY Group, were paid to set up a conference for Merit Behavioral Care Corp. and represent the company outside Maryland.

''I'm told a year later that I got paid too much,'' he said. ''I believe I have done nothing wrong to warrant this punishment.''

His black colleagues did not absolve Young of blame, but some argued fervently against expulsion.

''I believe we should not lynch the senator,'' said Sen. Decatur Trotter, D-Prince George's, saying expulsion was the equivalent of the death penalty.

Sen. Joan Conway, a Baltimore Democrat, urged senators to slow down the process.

''This is more of a political issue than it is racial,'' she said. ''This is overkill. Two hundred and some years and no senator who has served in this senate has been put in this position.''

No member has been expelled from the legislature since the late 1700s, when two were kicked out, one for cheating at cards.

A new senator will be chosen by a committee in Young's district controlled by the senator and his supporters.

After the Senate vote, Baltimore Democratic Delegate Howard Rawlings told the Appropriations Committee that Young's supporters plan to have a delegate from his district take his place in the Senate and then appoint Young to the House vacancy. But Delegate Robert Flanagan, D-Howard, said he already has an oral opinion from the attorney general's office that the House could also expel Young.

Despite the expulsion, Young can, and is expected to, run for election to his Senate seat in the fall. He has solid support in his downtown Baltimore district and would be a strong candidate.

The Senate vote may not end Young's troubles. The state prosecutor's office also is conducting a criminal investigation, and the FBI has asked to see a copy of the ethics committee report.

The vote also is not likely to end debate over the ethics charges against him.

Republicans are expected to make ethics an issue in their bid to win the 1998 gubernatorial election and increase their numbers in the General Assembly, where all 188 seats are up for re-election. Democrats are also worried that they may lose black votes in the fall if the action against Young is seen as racially biased.

The investigation into Young has also spawned other examinations.

Maryland higher education officials are looking at the Coppin State contract to see if anyone should be disciplined for giving Young an unwritten, no-bid contract.

And there could be a review of all state health care contracts to see if any companies, including those involving Young, did anything improper and should be penalized.

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