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Delegate's departure leaves some in shock and disbelief

February 16, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The abrupt end to Robert A. McKee's 13-year legislative career stunned longtime colleagues and fellow Republicans.

"When I learned this stuff, I was really shocked to my core, and dismayed and saddened," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who has known McKee for decades.

McKee announced Friday he was resigning from his elected office and his job as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington

County in the wake of a police investigation into allegations of child pornography in his Halfway home.

In a separate notice to House Speaker Michael E. Busch's office, McKee stated his resignation would take effect Monday at 8 p.m., said Alexandra

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Hughes, a spokeswoman for Busch. That's when the House holds its first session of the week.

Police said Friday they used a warrant to search McKee's Halfway home on Jan. 31 and seized two computers, videotapes and printed materials.

Police had not filed any charges.

McKee could not be reached on his cell phone or at his home on Friday.

He was present for Thursday morning's House session, but later left his office for the day, skipping his Ways and Means Committee's hearing session in the afternoon.

His statement says he has "entered treatment."

While others expressed shock or disappointment on Friday, Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., R-Frederick/Washington, described his reaction as "sadness."

"I consider Bob to be a very close friend, one of the best friends I have down here," Weldon said.

"I'm shocked and deeply troubled by this investigation and these allegations, as well as Delegate McKee's abrupt resignation," said Del.

Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington. "At this time, I think it's important that we allow law enforcement and the judicial system to do its job in these matters in the professional way that we would expect them to."

The House Republican Caucus released a statement from Shank, the minority whip, and Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, the minority leader, with similar sentiments.

"In light of these legal proceedings, we believe Delegate McKee's subsequent resignation was appropriate," the caucus statement says.

McKee, 58, has served in the House of Delegates since 1995. His subdistrict, 2A, covers northern parts of Washington County, including Williamsport, Maugansville, Smithsburg and Cascade.

Since 2004, he has been chairman of the Western Maryland delegation, made up of representatives from Washington, Frederick, Garrett, Allegany and Carroll counties.

McKee has been involved in civic organizations and was president of Halfway's Little League for several years.

"I'm totally surprised," said Penny Pittman, the chairwoman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee. "Delegate McKee is an upstanding citizen of the community."

"Under the circumstances, my prayers are with Bob," said Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, the chairman of Washington County's delegation. "It's obviously something that he needs to deal with."

"I went to him a week and a half ago and asked if he was OK," Weldon said. "He was not his usual jovial self."

He said McKee told him he was working out some problems.

"I had no idea, but I could see he wasn't the Bob McKee I knew," Weldon said.

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