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Ethics panel halts Delauter's construction company to do business in Frederick County

Patti S. Borda
Frederick News-Post

(3/29) The county's Ethics Commission has reversed course in a ruling it made over the ability of Frederick County Commissioner Kirby Delauter's construction company to do business in Frederick County.

Delauter deferred comment to his attorney, Rand Weinberg, who said Monday he wants to know why the county's Ethics Commission has changed its opinion a second time.

Since November, the Ethics Commission has issued three different opinions of how Delauter can comply with the county's ethics ordinance.

Weinberg said he believed it was all settled in January with the second opinion. The Ethics Commission was satisfied then that Delauter's company would not enter into any new contracts with the county during Delauter's term of office, but could subcontract with developers and perform private work. Delauter agreed to disqualify himself from any votes on or participation in any matter that concerns any privately funded project in which W.F. Delauter and Son is engaged.

He agreed to disqualify himself from voting on any specific budget item that affects the funding or personnel in any county department that inspects work performed by his company.

Weinberg said the March 21 reversal came without warning.

"It's unprecedented in my entire career that any governmental (body) would hold a hearing that concerns a specific individual without giving him notice of the hearing and opportunity to participate," Weinberg said.

The latest decision restored the Ethics Commission's original December opinion, recommending that Delauter not let his company do any work in the county that requires county inspections. The Ethics Commission said it would create a conflict of interest for Delauter to be in a position of authority over county employees who would be charged with responsibility for inspecting the work done by his firm.

The latest advisory, dated March 21, said Delauter's firm may complete work on any contracts and subcontracts approved before March 21, but advises against new contracts with the county and subcontracts with developers.

The opinion said the ethics board "received additional information that clarifies how the process for approval of developer funded projects works in the county," and information led the Ethics Commission to restore the December opinion.

Weinberg does not know what new information the Ethics Commission considered before rescinding its January opinion.

"We are investigating fully and exploring all of our options," he said.

No one from the Ethics Commission responded to a request on Monday for information.