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Del. Alston to face biweekly financial, timekeeping reviews

Del. Tiffany Alston is racking up the grand jury indictments and, come the 2012 General Assembly session, she’ll be operating under added scrutiny.

“While it is important to remember that Delegate Alston has not been convicted of a crime, I believe that the allegation of theft of state dollars warrants an immediate response to assure the public that legislative funds are being used appropriately by those who have been entrusted with them,” House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Anne Arundel, said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

He said the Department of Legislative Services will conduct biweekly reviews of Alston’s legislative account and will verify the timesheets of her legislative staffers.

“I am taking this action to ensure public accountability pending a judicial resolution of the charges announced today,” Busch said.

The indictment alleges Alston used $800 in state funds in January to pay a worker at her private law firm. It comes on the heels of a September indictment that said Alston raided her own campaign funds to pay for her wedding. She has maintained her innocence.

Alston, D-Prince George’s, does not face immediate action by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

The case of state Sen. Ulysses Currie, another Prince George’s Democrat, was only referred to the ethics committee after his trial in November. Currie was found innocent of all charges.

From the AP:

The ethics committee has not recommended sanctions against a lawmaker since the expulsion of Baltimore Sen. Larry Young in 1998 for allegedly using his office to secure business from health care firms for his private corporations. In that case, the committee issued a report by opening day of the 1998 General Assembly. Young ended up being expelled on a 36-10 vote. It was the first time in two centuries that Maryland lawmakers expelled one of their own.