Baltimore County Councilman Todd Huff says he accepted football tickets from a developer that were not reported on his annual financial disclosure form.
The county's ethics law does not require elected officials to disclose whether they've accepted sports tickets as gifts, but five of the council's seven members — as well as County Executive Kevin Kamenetz — reported that they had done so last year. The county has continued to allow the practice, despite the fact that the state requires it to be banned.
In the ethics reports, due last week, Huff and Kenneth Oliver were the only council members to say they had not accepted any gifts from people who do business with the county, are registered lobbyists, or engage in activities regulated by the county. Oliver, a Randallstown Democrat, said Tuesday he did not remember whether he took any tickets.
Huff, a Lutherville Republican, said this week that he received two Ravens tickets from Merritt Properties in the beginning of the football season, but did not report the tickets because the county's ethics law does not require him to do so.
Huff said he has been friends with Merritt chairman and CEO Scott Dorsey "for years."
"Does it persuade me in any way, shape or form?" Huff said of the tickets. "No."
The county overhauled the law last year to comply with a 2010 state law that makes local governments enact public ethics requirements that are at least as strict as those state legislators must follow.
When the county revised its laws last year under legislation introduced by Kamenetz, it exempted sports tickets from the list of gifts that officials are not allowed to take. It also did not require officials to report such tickets.
In February, the state Ethics Commission said that Baltimore County's new law didn't meet Maryland standards for several reasons, such as allowing elected officials to take sports tickets. Under state law, officials can't take gifts from people whose activities are regulated by them or who do business with their agency.
"The acceptance of sporting event tickets has not been allowed under State law for many years," the commission's lawyer wrote in a letter to the county in February.
Kamenetz's chief of staff, Don Mohler, said last week that the county plans to update the law soon to comply with state standards.
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