HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The Washington County Circuit Court is deciding whether the County Commision can kick Commissioner Cort Meinelschmidt off his post. He’s accused of taking small business relief funds for a business venture in which he had “a direct financial interest.”
He has apologized and returned the money but said he will not resign. His lawyer, Ira Cooke, said the commission has no authority to boot him off commission — it would disenfranchise voters. But Bruce Poole, counsel for the commission in Friday’s hearing says Maryland has a history of corruption and the General Assembly gave localities the authority to discipline their own.
“If we don’t have the authority for county commissioners to police their own the system falls apart,” said Poole. “You can’t have people who are in there committing conflicts of interest doing things to benefit themselves. You have to have trust in systems and institutions and if you don’t chaos will result.”
Ira Cooke, counsel for Commissioner Meinelschmidt, said, “It is unprecedented in this county. Instead of giving him advice they kicked him out of office.”
The circuit count hears this case again in about 10 days.