Republicans Clean Up Mess Left by ex-Delegate McKee after Child Porn Arrest

By KELLY WILSON, Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS (Feb. 20, 2008) - Former Republican Maryland Delegate Robert McKee, of Washington County in western Maryland, left little unfinished legislative business behind when he resigned recently after police seized computers from his home as part of a child pornography investigation.

In a legislative session that has seen 1,517 bills introduced in the House of Delegates, McKee sponsored only one, which would require mortgage lenders to allow payments from customers online.

The 47 bills McKee co-sponsored included efforts to name Smith Island Cake the state dessert, to repeal the unpopular computer services tax and to step up penalties for child sexual abuse.

McKee's resignation took effect Monday night. The Washington County sheriff's office seized two computers and numerous video tapes and printed materials from his house last month as part of a joint child pornography investigation with the FBI.

Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley will appoint a replacement based on a recommendation from the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

McKee has also resigned as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County. He had been chairman of the Western Maryland delegation, which is scheduled to meet Thursday to elect a replacement.

McKee's absence is not likely to have any significant effect on delegation bills, said Delegate LeRoy Myers, R-Washington, and the delegation's vice chairman.

"Things are pretty vanilla when it comes to the legislation," he said, because the delegation is unified on most issues.

The Washington County Republican Central Committee has 30 days to provide O'Malley with the names of candidates to fill the seat. The governor then has 15 days to make the appointment.

Committee officials said they do not yet have a candidate in mind but they are accepting applications postmarked on or before Thursday. McKee ran unopposed in 2006 and handily defeated his Democratic opponent in 2002.

"Everyone that submits an application will be considered," said Committee Chairwoman Penny Pittman.

The new delegate will finish the remainder of McKee's four-year term. Former Chairman John Dunlap said keeping the vacant spot under Republican control through the next election year, 2010, is a priority.

"We're looking for the person who's best qualified and who can hold the seat," Dunlap said.

Although the committee can submit as many names as it chooses Dunlap said he expects to pass only one to the governor. Pittman declined to specify a definite number.

Dunlap said the nomination decision will rest entirely with the nine-member committee, which will not seek recommendations from McKee.

"I don't think we'll have any contact with him whatsoever," Dunlap said.

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