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Cecil Whig - - OPINION -

To the stun­ning down­fall of Ce­cil County State’s At­tor­ney El­lis Rollins III, who, in the mat­ter of a week, went from fron­trun­ner to a Ce­cil County Cir­cuit Court judge­ship to sim­ply fight­ing to save his name amidst charges of in­de­cent ex­po­sure. Fol­low­ing last week’s Mary­land State’s At­tor­neys’ As­so­ci­a­tion con­ven­tion in Ocean City, Rollins was al­legedly spot­ted in the nude on his ho­tel bal­cony, rais­ing the ire of tourists in a nearby con­do­minium com­plex. Rollins and his wife are fight­ing that no­tion, how­ever, say­ing they are the true vic­tims be­cause they were spied upon in their ho­tel room by oth­ers and deny that he was ever on the bal­cony. The strange case has cap­tured na­tional at­ten­tion and un­for­tu­nately it was not good tim­ing for the state’s at­tor­ney’s chances at a ju­di­cial ap­point­ment. As we await more facts in the case to be re­vealed, we’re sim­ply left won­der­ing how all of this man­aged to hap­pen at such a time.

To con­cerns raised by Ris­ing Sun’s con­tracted town ac­coun­tant over the lack­adaisi­cal re­port­ing of town fi­nances, in­clud­ing im­proper cod­ing of money into the cor­rect budget item, mis­un­der­stand­ing of soft­ware pro­grams and pro­ce­dures, and an over­all in­dif­fer­ence and re­sis­tance by the staff to make changes. “Ac­cu­racy and sup­port­ing doc­u­ments seems to be a low pri­or­ity when it should be of para­mount im­por­tance in or­der to main­tain proper in­ter­nal con­trols,” the ac­coun­tant wrote to town of­fi­cials. Other ar­eas of con­cern was the nearly $20,000 in ar­rear ac­counts that may not have been ac­cu­rate and more than $1,000 in late fees due to tar­di­ness in mail open­ing, among other is­sues. Of­fi­cials blamed a lack of proper over­sight, as dic­tated by town pol­icy, and the res­ig­na­tion of two town em­ploy­ees tasked with fi­nan­cial over­sight for some of the is­sues. They say that the work­flow is­sues have since been as­sessed and cor­rected, but it brings into ques­tion why poor pol­icy was al­lowed to con­tinue for so long?

To the im­pli­ca­tions of the unan­i­mous Supreme Court de­ci­sion in the graft case against for­mer Vir­ginia Gov. Bob McDon­nell. Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr., writ­ing for the court, nar­rowed the def­i­ni­tion of what sort of con­duct can serve as the ba­sis of a cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tion. He said only for­mal and con­crete govern­ment actions counted — fil­ing a law­suit, say, or mak­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ter­mi­na­tion. Rou­tine po­lit­i­cal cour­te­sies like ar­rang­ing meet­ings or urg­ing un­der­lings to con­sider a mat­ter, he added, gen­er­ally do not, even when the peo­ple seek­ing those fa­vors give the pub­lic of­fi­cials gifts or money. McDon­nell, a Republican who served from 2010 to 2014, was charged with us­ing his of­fice to help Jon­nie R. Wil­liams Sr., who had pro­vided the McDon­nells with lux­ury prod­ucts, loans and va­ca­tions worth more than $175,000 when McDon­nell was gov­er­nor. Be­cause the gov­er­nor was un­suc­cess­ful in ad­vanc­ing his bene­fac­tor’s in­ter­est, how­ever, the Supreme Court found that it could not be de­ter­mined bribery. The im­pli­ca­tions of the case will make it harder for pros­e­cu­tors to try politi­cians in cases of sus­pected bribery or kick­backs, un­less the case built against him or her is over­whelm­ing.

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