Who leaked Morhaim ethics in­quiry?

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Richard B. Wel­don Jr., Brunswick

I served in the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates from 2002- 2009 as a Repub­li­can rep­re­sent­ing Fred­er­ick and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties. Dur­ing that time, I worked with Del. Dan Morhaim, a Demo­crat, and we made progress to­gether on is­sues rang­ing from im­prov­ing our health care sys­tem to pro­cure­ment re­form.

Be­gin­ning with the Com­pas­sion­ate Use Act in 2003, Del­e­gate Morhaim worked to bring the ben­e­fits of med­i­cal cannabis to Mary­land cit­i­zens in a safe and re­spon­si­ble man­ner. He took this on when it was not yet po­lit­i­cally pop­u­lar, and he worked with all stake­hold­ers to build bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus on the best way to do this. Dr. Morhaim de­voted nearly two decades to this is­sue, and his only goal was to help pa­tients who badly needed re­lief.

That’s why it is dis­turb­ing to read in The Sun that an ethics in­quiry is be­ing con­sid­ered (“Morhaim fac­ing ethics in­quiry for role in med­i­cal mar­i­juana in­dus­try,” Sept. 22). But it’s not even the po­ten­tial in­quiry that dis­turbs me. I know that Del­e­gate Morhaim is a per­son of high in­tegrity who un­der­stands the need to main­tain eth­i­cal and le­gal dis­tance be­tween his work as a leg­is­la­tor and his role out­side the leg­is­la­ture. In work­ing with Dr. Morhaim for nearly 10 years, he was al­ways mo­ti­vated solely to help im­prove health care in Mary­land.

What is most dis­turb­ing is that the Sun re­porter got this in­for­ma­tion “ac­cord­ing to three peo­ple with di­rect knowl­edge of the in­quiry.” Pro­ceed­ings of the Joint Com­mit­tee on Leg­isla­tive Ethics are con­fi­den­tial, and di­vulging such in­for­ma­tion is not only in­ap­pro­pri­ate, it is against the law (Sec­tion 5-517 of the Gen­eral Pro­vi­sions Ar­ti­cle).

Con­fi­den­tial­ity is an in­te­gral part of many re­la­tion­ships: doc­tor-pa­tient, lawyer-client, work­place pro­pri­etary data, mil­i­tary plan­ning, busi­ness op­er­a­tions. What’s the point of con­fi­den­tial­ity if in­for­ma­tion can be leaked via the ex­cuse of anonymity? If that’s the case, no in­for­ma­tion and no in­di­vid­ual’s rep­u­ta­tion can ever be safe.

The Sun ought to dis­close who th­ese three in­di­vid­u­als are. The Sun has this in­for­ma­tion, as the ar­ti­cle ac­knowl­edged. Re­porters don’t like to dis­close their sources, but in this mat­ter the pub­lic trust is at stake. The pub­lic has the right to know who may have vi­o­lated the law here.

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