Embattled Baltimore Sen. Nathaniel Oaks (D-41) has been removed from the Senate Finance Committee by Senate President Mike Miller (D-27) after a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.
According to media reports, Miller rendered the decision to remove Oaks from his committee assignments Feb. 26. Oaks was not in attendance on that day.
“The Committee has identified numerous potential violations of the Maryland Public Ethics Law arising from the actions of Senator Oaks that resulted in the filing of federal criminal charges,” wrote the ethics committee in their letter to Miller, dated Feb. 22. On Feb. 23, Oaks filed for re-election.
“…the Committee is extremely concerned about the seriousness of the allegations, as well as their impact on the confidence of Maryland’s citizens in their government officials and the Maryland General Assembly. Therefore, the Committee recommends that you remove Senator Oaks from all of his committee assignments pending the outcome of the federal trial and subsequent committee actions,” the letter concluded.
Oaks being relieved of committee assignments is the strongest disciplinary action that can be taken by Senate leadership without a finding of wrongdoing by an ethics committee investigation.
Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Schenning recommended the ethics committee not proceed with an investigation into Oaks’ potential violations, until the conclusion of his federal trial on fraud charge, which is scheduled to begin Apr. 16, one week after the close of the General Assembly’s regular session.
Oaks is also a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, as well as a member of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
He was indicted last year on fraud charges, accused of using his official position to aid in a fraudulent real estate deal, set up by FBI operatives, in exchange for $15,000. Oaks plead not guilty to all of the charges.