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Hogan Pushes Tougher Penalties for Corrupt Politicians

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan hopes to increase the penalties for state politicians convicted of corruption. He announced the legislation Tuesday, just weeks after federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment of a Baltimore lawmaker for allegedly accepting more than 33 thousand dollars in bribes.

When the General Assembly opens its annual 90-day session Wednesday, Hogan noted, it will be the latest in a string of sessions to start shortly after a House or Senate member faced criminal charges. 

“Just in the last five years, more than a dozen state, county and local officials in Maryland have been charged with fraud and bribery,” he said.

Hogan’s proposed legislation would increase the fine for anyone who attempts to bribe a public official or an official who demands or accepts a bribe. The new fine would be between $10,000 and $100,000.

He also is proposing an amendment to the state constitution to allow the Ethics Commission to fine officials who commit ethics violations.

And he wants to pass a law stripping legislators and state employees of their state-funded pensions when they are convicted of a crime.

“A pervasive culture of corruption continues to exist and it is clear that even tougher and more stringent laws are needed,” he said at Tuesday’s press conference.

In just the last few months, three former state legislators have faced federal fraud charges.

On Friday, former Del. Tawanna Gaines, from Prince George’s County, was sentenced to six months in prison for federal wire fraud.

Last month, federal prosecutors unsealed documents charging former Baltimore House Delegation Chair Cheryl Glenn with bribery and wire fraud. They said she collected more than $33,000 in exchange for supporting various bills in Annapolis. 

A few weeks before that, former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh — a former state senator — pleaded guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy to commit fraud. The charges resulted from  $800,000 prosecutors said she pressured local businesses and organizations to pay in deals for her self-published children’s books.

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