Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine violated county ethics law, the county’s Ethics Commission has ruled.
Kleine must pay $5,000 to the county as part of his punishment.
The ethics case is related to business relationships Kleine maintained with two companies prior to starting his position with the county in 2018.
The report, released on Wednesday, states that Kleine violated county ethics law on county employees having conflicts of interest due to outside employment.
The violation is related to his relationship with Balancing Act, which provides budget simulation software, and Clear Impact, which provides performance management software and training. Kleine worked with both contractors during his time as Baltimore City’s budget director, the report states.
After Kleine stepped down from his position in Baltimore, the report states, he created the company Andrew Kleine Consulting LLC, which entered into formal contracts with Balancing Act and an informal relationship with Clear Impact.
Kleine, the report states, entered into two contracts with Balancing Act in June 2018 for consulting services, and the company also sponsored an event in September of that year promoting his book “City on the Line.”
The Balancing Act contracts, which ended in January 2019, would have given Kleine’s consulting company a share of revenue from book sales, the report states. Neither Kleine nor his company ever got any income from the contract.
After Marc Elrich won the county executive race in the November 2018 election, he appointed Kleine chief administrative officer.
The following month, the county entered into a one-year contract with Balancing Act for $9,880 for the company’s software. Kleine, the report states, helped establish a “relationship” between the county and Balancing Act, although the Office of Management and Budget director was ultimately responsible for purchasing the software.
Balancing Act also helped promote Kleine’s book at a meeting of the Government Financial Officers’ Association in May 2019 in Los Angeles, the report states. Balancing Act purchased 20 copies of the book, which Kleine signed and distributed. Kleine made $42 in royalties from the event, the report states.
Bethesda Beat reported in September 2019 that the county’s Ethics Commission was looking into Kleine’s ties to Balancing Act.
Clear Impact’s relationship with Kleine started July 1, 2018, when the company paid Kleine $5,000 for “book promotion expenses,” the report states. Clear Impact sponsored some of Kleine’s book tour events, and the company’s logo is printed on the back cover of “City on the Line.”
Additionally, the report states that Former County Executive Ike Leggett’s administration “engaged” Clear Impact in a noncompetitive contract for $10,000 after the election to help with the transition to the Elrich administration. Then, in May 2019, the county entered into a contract with Clear Impact for up to $99,000.
Kleine had no formal contractual relationship with Clear Impact, but states that he realizes the company played a key role in supporting his book, the report states.
A Dec. 12, 2019, memo from Inspector General Megan Limarzi to the ethics commission states that the commission received several complaints that summer about “apparent conflicts of interest” Kleine had. The commission requested that the office of the inspector general investigate on Sept. 4, and the commission they agreed two days later.
The inspector general’s office completed its investigation on Dec. 12 and gave a copy of its report to the Ethics Commission.
On July 1, Kleine signed a “proposal to cure,” which mandates that he pay $5,000 to the county within 30 days of acceptance of the proposal by the ethics commission. Kleine also must direct the county’s chief procurement officer to make sure the county doesn’t buy any more copies of his book.
This story will be updated.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org