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County prosecutor investigating O’Malley furniture purchase

ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland county prosecutor is investigating former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s discounted purchase of furniture from the governor’s mansion, the state’s attorney’s spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

Heather Epkins, a spokeswoman for Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams, said a complaint was filed with the office.

“We investigate any complaint that comes into our office,” Epkins said. “We do our due diligence.”

The Baltimore Sun obtained documents in August showing that O’Malley, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and his wife paid $9,638 for 54 pieces of furniture. The newspaper, which first reported the investigation Thursday night, reported the items originally cost taxpayers about $62,000.

Haley Morris, a spokeswoman for O’Malley’s campaign, called the investigation “a bogus political attack that Maryland Republicans have tried to make stick, and it’s sad that they’re wasting taxpayer resources on it.”

Adams is a Republican and C. Gail Bassette, secretary of the department that sold the furniture to the O’Malleys, was appointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan after the sale.

The Maryland Department of General Services sold the furniture after the pieces were declared “junk,” but an agency rule prohibits preferential sales of state property to government officials.

The Sun reported Thursday night that Bassette sent all information about the sale to Adams in mid-October, according to a copy of an email obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.

“As the Department of General Services lacks the investigational abilities, this information is provided for your review in connection with any wrong doing,” Bassette wrote to Adams.

The Sun also reported that the agency did not follow its rule requiring it to solicit bids for such items and did not charge sales tax as required.

On Sept. 17, the state’s ethics commission declined to review the furniture purchase because it had no jurisdiction over the matter.

O’Malley completed his second term as governor on Jan. 21, 2015.