USM Board Finds Regent Marvin Mandel in Violation of Board's Ethics Policy

ADELPHI, Md. (May 12, 2006) The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has concluded that Regent Marvin Mandel violated the regents' public ethics policy during the 2004, 2005, and 2006 sessions of the Maryland General Assembly. Adopted in 1999, the policy states that: "A member of the Board of Regents shall not, for compensation, assist or represent any party in any matter before the General Assembly . . . Questions or concerns about compliance with this policy may be brought to the Board of Regents Committee on Audit."

The decision follows the recommendation of the board's Committee on Audit, which appointed a panel last month to review allegations against Mandel. The panel found, and the audit committee and board agreed, that Mandel did not violate the policy intentionally.

In accepting the audit committee's report, the board has concluded that:

  • during the 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions, Mandel represented a client as a registered and paid lobbyist, in violation of the policy;
  • Mandel did not attempt to use his status as a USM regent to gain favor for himself or his clients in activities before the General Assembly;
  • during the 2006 legislative session, Mandel's service as legal counsel to a client included efforts to oppose pending legislation;
  • since Mandel advocated before legislators for a specific outcome on pending legislation, as part of his paid representation of clients, he violated the board's ethics policy;
  • Mandel's actions, as they relate to the ethics policy, were not willful or intentional.

The USM board has no authority to impose sanctions against its members. However, Mandel has assured the board that, in the future, he will not engage in activities that violate the board's public ethics policy.

"The University System of Maryland Board of Regents plays a critical role in advancing our state," said Mandel. "I respect and cherish my membership on the board and I deeply regret that my actions may have cast an undeserving negative light on the valuable work that my colleagues and I perform on behalf of our students and our state. We all understand that we, as regents, must conduct ourselves beyond reproach. Now that I am more fully informed of the policy, I will be more sensitive to its requirements as I continue my work as a regent."

During the review of possible allegations, Regent Mandel noted that he did not receive specific information about the ethics policy when he was appointed to the board in 2003. However, he acknowledged that he was made aware of the policy this year prior to his testimony during the 2006 legislative session. Mandel also stated that he did not believe the policy applied to this situation since his relationships with his clients existed prior to his board membership.

The board based its conclusions on a thorough review conducted by a three-member panel of regents: Orlan Johnson, Clifford Kendall, and Robert Mitchell. The board's Audit Committee appointed the panel to review allegations that Mandel may have violated the "Policy on Public Ethics of Members of the Board of Regents." The panel's work related only to the board policy; the members did not explore matters regulated by the State Ethics Commission.

In assessing the allegations related to the board policy, the panel:

  • reviewed the policy and the 1999 legislation that mandated the policy's creation;
  • consulted with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General on the standards to be used in assessing possible violations of the policy;
  • reviewed media stories regarding Mandel's possible violations of the board's policy;
  • reviewed lobbying records and other relevant documentation available from the Maryland State Ethics Commission;
  • conducted in-depth interviews with Mandel and individuals involved in the legislative matters for which he recently assisted clients.

In reaching its conclusions, the board expressed its firm determination to operate fully within the expectations of the board's public ethics policy and the state's ethics laws. (The State Ethics Commission oversees compliance with state ethics laws).

With the announcement of its conclusions, the USM Board of Regents considers its investigation into Regent Mandel's actions closed.

Contact: Liz O'Neill
Phone: 301.445.2719