** Updated with Speaker Busch's statement
Prince George's County Del. Tiffany Alston was indicted this morning on charges that she arranged for the General Assembly to pay the salary of a employee in her private law practice.
Alston, a Prince George's County lawmaker, is also facing charges that she misused her campaign fund by using political donations to buy a wedding dress.
The new charges were handed up this morning by an Anne Arundel County grand jury after an investigation by Maryland's Office of the State Prosecutor. The prosecutors alleged that she had a $100-a-day clerk position added to her office payroll, which is funded by taxpayer dollars. The employee never worked in Annapolis, prosecutors say. Instead the individual was assigned to her law firm, authorities said. The prosecutors allege that $800 was stolen.
Alston denied any wrongdoing in the initial theft charges. (We are trying to get in touch with her on the latest ones, and will add her response.) Several lawmakers have said that she's approached them to co-sponsor legislation auditing the state prosecutors office, which is charged with investigating lawmakers.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch Thursday requested that the Department of Legislative Services conduct biweekly "reviews" of Alston's legislative account and "assume responsibility for verifying the time sheets of her legislative employees," according to a statement from his office.
“While it is important to remember that Delegate Alston has not been convicted of a crime, I believe that the allegation of theft of state dollars warrants an immediate response to assure the public that legislative funds are being used appropriately by those who have been entrusted with them," said Busch in a statement.
Other than the charges, Alston, a freshman delegate, is best known for an episode last session during the debate on same-sex marriage. She walked out of a House Judiciary Committee voting session on the bill and withdrew her support from the measure even though she initially co-sponsored it.
She, along with several other lawmakers, also walked out of a Legislative Black Caucus meeting in October. Their action denied the body the quorum needed to take a position on Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed Congressional map.