Thursday, August 10, 2006

Prince of Darkness in Spotlight

Finally, over a year after a special legislative committee was formed to investigate accusations the Ehrlich administration fired state employees for their party affiliations, Joseph "The Prince of Darkness" Steffen testified.

Steffen, a former Ehrlich aide who resigned amid scandal last year, said he was instructed by Appointments Secretary Larry Hogan to identify at-will employees for possible termination, according to The Post's account. He said he considered party affiliation when making the recommendations.

First off, its important to take Steffen's testimony with a grain of salt. This guy has a massive ego and was known to inflate his importance. While an e-mail from Kendel Ehrlich to The Prince suggests that the political family considered him a critical player, the governor has repeatedly denied that Steffen was anything more than a low-level aide. And note that Steffen never had any real power to fire anyone; he claims he was instructed to make mere recommendations (a claim disputed by earlier administration testimony).

That said, Steffen's testimony provides additional evidence that Team Ehrlich sought to get rid of career state employees because they were Democrats. The administration has denied that this is the case both publicly and in sworn testimony. As a result, the committee instructed its legal counsel to look into possible perjury charges. So its beginning to seem that not only did the Ehrlich administration engage in irresponsible abuses of power intended to benefit the politically connected at the expense of the people of Maryland, but its dishonesty about the reality may have landed it in the legal hotseat.

from The League: Reassembled

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