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Maryland State Prosecutor's Office plans to investigate Taylor

July 29, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

The Maryland State Prosecutor's Office has agreed to investigate allegations of illegal campaign activity by House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.

Maryland Republicans asked for the inquiry last week after Taylor admitted to wrongly allowing a trooper to drive his secretary to a political event.

State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said he didn't know how long the probe would take.

Taylor, D-Allegany, reimbursed state police $94 for chauffeuring Rhonda Robinson from Cumberland, Md., to nearby Flintstone, Md., where she represented him at a three-hour League of Women Voters candidates forum.

"Mr. Taylor's act showed a blatant disregard for the law," said Paul D. Ellington, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.

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Bartlett taken to task over Traficant stance

When the U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-1 last week to expel colleague James Traficant for taking bribes and kickbacks, Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett was one of nine congressmen who voted "present."

Don DeArmon, a Democrat who hopes to unseat Bartlett this fall, criticized the Republican for refusing to take a position.

"I just think that's terrible that he doesn't know right from wrong and isn't willing to police members in his own body that are convicted of crimes like that," DeArmon said.

Bartlett said it would have been easy to vote "yes," but he didn't because of outstanding questions about the case.

There is no appeal for expulsion from the House, he said.

Candidates being asked about health-care views

Candidates for state office this fall are being asked to commit their views on health care.

Health Care For All, a coalition of interest groups in Maryland, has asked candidates to sign a resolution endorsing three health care measures.

  • Keeping CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield a nonprofit insurer.

  • Increasing the state's cigarette tax by 36 cents a pack to help pay for health care and reduce teen smoking.

  • Authorizing the state to negotiate with prescription drug manufacturers to lower prices for seniors and others without drug insurance.



The group commissioned a poll that showed that 66 percent in Western Maryland favor a tobacco tax increase to pay for health care.

Candidates have until Aug. 27 to make up their minds about the resolution, said Vincent DeMarco, executive director of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

Signing it doesn't commit the candidates to some of the group's more controversial proposals, such as extending state-funded health insurance to all of the uninsured.

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