A jury in Maryland has found State Sen. Ulysses S. Currie not guilty of conspiracy, bribery and extortion. While he chaired a powerful state budget committee, Currie accepted $245,000 from Shoppers Food Warehouse and did not declare that on financial disclosure forms. Prosecutors claimed the payments amounted to bribes in exchange for political favors. The defense argued it was legal consulting work.
Annie Linskey, state politics reporter with the Baltimore Sun, talked with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey for some analysis of the trial.
On the deciding factors that led to the not-guilty verdict: "Jurors that we talked to seemed to think that Currie did something that was not ethical, but didn't quite think it rose to the level of federal bribery," Linskey says.
On whether Currie will face repercussions in Annapolis, as today's Baltimore Sun editorial suggested he should: "Given his very close ties in Annapolis, and the overwhelming sympathy felt for him -- he's 74 years old, he's been suffering from prostate cancer -- I would think it would be pretty hard to imagine that there would be the appetite to expel him."
On whether the case will lead to more transparency in the Maryland state house: "I think that a conviction might have pushed that along a little bit further," she says. "At this point, you wonder if people are just going to say, 'We've been dealing with this case for years, we're through with it, we want to move on.'"
How the verdict affects the perception of U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein: "It certainly is a loss … he took on one of the most popular and powerful people in Annapolis and he lost," she says. "But he's incredibly popular, and he has a lot of wins under his belt. He did just recently indict Jack Johnson, the former Price George's County executive, and that led to a round of guilty pleas."
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