October 26, 2021 Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced the formation of an independent Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics and Accountability, which will perform a comprehensive review and evaluation of Baltimore County’s current laws and policies governing public ethics, open government and the Office of Inspector General.

“Over the last three years, we’ve made Baltimore County’s government more open, accessible, and transparent than ever before. We also believe we should continue working to create a government that upholds the highest standards of ethics and accountability,” Olszewski said. “I’d like to thank Judge Murphy and all the members of this independent commission for their service as they work to ensure our laws reflect national best practices and identify innovative opportunities to further strengthen our County for years to come.”

The Baltimore County Commission on Ethics and Accountability will study Baltimore County’s existing ethics laws and laws concerning the Office of Inspector General, and provide recommendations to ensure existing policies align with national best practices and identify any additional policies, functions, or innovative practices to strengthen existing law.

The Baltimore County Commission on Ethics and Accountability will be chaired by Retired Judge Joseph F. Murphy, Jr. who previously served on the Court of Appeals—Maryland’s highest court—as well as a former Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

The Commission will be comprised of a diverse group of respected thought-leaders who operate outside of County government and the Baltimore County Council, including:

  • Judge Joseph Murphy, Chair
  • Joanne Antoine, Executive Director, Common Cause Maryland
  • Judge Kathleen Cox, Former Baltimore County Circuit Court Administrative Judge
  • Thomas X. Glancy, Esq., Member at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz and President-elect of the Board of Directors for ACLU of Maryland’s Public Justice Center.
  • William E. Johnson, Jr., Former Inspector General for the Maryland Department of Human Resources
  • Jon Laria, Esq., Managing Partner of Ballard Spahr
  • Cindy Leppert, Esq., Chair of Baltimore County’s Ethics Commission

All Commission meetings will be open to the public.

Since taking office, the Olszewski administration has taken unprecedented steps to make local government more accountable to the people it serves.

The administration’s first major legislative effort was a package of reforms to improve accountability in County government and strengthen ethical standards, including:

  • Creating a Fair Election Fund System for the public financing for candidates in Baltimore County starting with the 2026 election cycle;
  • Prohibiting certain officials from lobbying County government for a period of one year following end of employment;
  • Posting all lobbyist registrations online and streamlining the definition of a lobbyist so the same standards apply to those who lobby the executive and legislative branches; and
  • Creating an Office of Ethics and Accountability to audit, inspect, evaluate and investigate government operations. In 2020, the Baltimore County Council passed legislation to convert the Office of Ethics and Accountability into the current Office of the Inspector General.

To ensure the new Commission can complete its work independently, in the coming weeks the County will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for an outside vendor to provide administrative and technical support for the Commission.

The Commission will develop an interim report with its recommendations to the County Executive and the County Council by July 1, 2022, and will issue a final report by November 1, 2022.