A recent article from a local Maryland newspaper, The Gazette, highlighted a lawsuit brought by The Gowen Group against the Town of Brentwood, Maryland and a former Brentwood councilwoman. The lawsuit was brought by citizens of the town who noticed that elected officials awarded $27,000 through a grant from Prince George’s County to a former council member, a clear violation of the town’s charter and ethics rules.
Prince George’s County awarded a grant to the town of Brentwood to offer $10,000 each to qualifying homes to improve energy efficiency. The county grant was part of a larger grant from the federal government’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In June 2010 Council Member Marlene Robinson and the town council accepted the grant from the county and created a program to distribute the money to qualifying homes. Yet in October of 2012, Ms. Robinson, who is clearly barred from accepting any amount of money over $500, received $27,000 from the town while not one other recipient received more than $10,000.
“This is simply an issue of fairness,” stated Chris Gowen, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, “We cannot have our elected officials taking advantage of programs that are meant to benefit the citizens of the town. Both Ms. Robinson and the current council were elected to perform their duties ethically and ensure that all eligible town residents were receiving grant money in an equitable manner.”
The matter is scheduled for trial at the Prince George’s County Circuit Court this spring. Questions can be directed to Kelley Bevis at firstname.lastname@example.org.