MARYLAND - December 29, 2021
Christopher T. Adams is registered as a Republican and currently serves as a Maryland State Delegate in District 37B for Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico Counties. He has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2015. He owns Value Enterprises, LLC (Value Carpet One) and a company called S. Lee Smith Jr., Inc. (family business in residential & commercial real estate).
It appears that Adams has been using his elected seat to derive personal benefit through his businesses by contracting with state agencies and municipalities, which are all funded by taxpayer dollars through the State of Maryland. Using inside knowledge and connections, he has introduced and blocked legislation to serve and protect his personal areas of interest. It also appears that the state and county municipalities knowingly do business with the Delegate's companies in exchange for political and legislative favors.
The Maryland State Ethics Commission requires elected officials to file a Financial Disclosure to report all of the interest and assets, which is designed to ensure that no conflicts of interest exist in an elected seat of the General Assembly. This is governed by the General Provisions of the Maryland Public Ethics Laws (starting on page 42 in section 5−512 Disqualification—Presumption of conflict).
WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES ARE GOVERNED BY THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST PROVISIONS AND ADMINISTERED BY THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION?
The General Ethics Law below contains a summarized list of the general types of prohibitions. Please refer to Md. Code Ann., General Provisions §§5-501 through 5-507 for the specific prohibitions. The complete ethics manual can be found here.
1. An employee or official may not participate in a matter in which he or she has an interest. This prohibition also applies where an official’s or employee’s relatives (spouse, children, brother, sister or parents), or certain entities has/have an interest. Non-participation includes any discussion, advising or deciding of the matter and requires disclosure of the conflict.
2. An official or employee may not participate in a matter when one of the parties is a business entity in which he or she has an employment, contractual or creditor relationship. This prohibition also applies when certain relatives (spouse, children, brother, sister or parents) have such a relationship. Non-participation includes any discussion, advising or deciding of the matter and requires disclosure of the conflict.
3. An official or employee may not have a financial interest in or be employed by an entity having or negotiating a contract with the agency with which he or she is affiliated.
4. An official or employee may not hold any employment relationship that would impair his or her impartiality or independence of judgment.
5. An official or employee may not intentionally use the prestige of his or her office for personal gain or that of another. This prohibition means an official or employee may not use any influence he/she may have to obtain a special benefit for himself/herself or another or use state resources for personal benefit or to benefit another. This includes but is not limited to: influencing the award of a State or local contract to a specific person; initiating a solicitation for a person to retain the compensated services of a particular lobbyist or firm; or using public resources or title to solicit a political contribution.
6. An official or employee whose duties include matters substantially relating to the subject matter of any contract with the State may not become, while he or she is an official or employee of the State, an employee of the party contracting with the State.
7. An official or employee, or a former official or former employee, may not disclose or use for personal economic benefit, or that of another, confidential information acquired by reason of his or her public position.
Delegate Adams' Financial Disclosure
Delegate Adams' Financial Disclosure filed with the Maryland State Ethics Commission states that he owns Value Enterprises, LLC and did not do any business with the state. There are state-funded establishments that he does business with and were not disclosed.
It is stated that Adams is employed as President of his other company S. Lee Smith Jr., Inc., which he holds contracts with the State's Community Colleges, including Wor Wic Community College, Chesapeake College, Salisbury University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Tied to these are thousands of dollars in flooring contracts that run into the millions. Other state-funded establishments were not disclosed. When asked if he had ownership interest in this company, in Schedule F of his disclosure, Adams answered "N/A" when it's a YES/NO answer. The State should have not allowed or overlooked this. Here is his April 2021 - Financial Disclosure.
Six months later, Adams filed an amendment to Schedule C-1 of his financial disclosure. He was clearly trying to remove the ownership interest gifted to him by his mother Valerie Adams, which may have contradicted his answer of 10-24% ownership in the company. This amendment doesn't look very good for him to try and erase. Here's his amended disclosure: November 2021 Financial Disclosure (Amended)
The State of Maryland has been doing business directly with his company (S. Lee Smith Jr., Inc.). Adams did not disclose the Department of Housing and Community Development, Maryland State Police and the Maryland Department of Health in his Financial Disclosure. All past business transactions with the state are required to be disclosed.
State-Funded County Government
All county school systems receive state funding. Below, you can see that Adams' company secured $411,633.00 in flooring contracts from the Wicomico County Board of Education between 7/16/2020 and 10/20/2021 alone. Prior years show even more. This is just one school system in one county. There are more state agencies and municipalities. Here's one example:
To add a ladle of unethical stew, Adam's wife is a state employee who works for the Wicomico County Board of Education receiving an annual salary of $85K per year while her husband is simultaneously doing business with the WCBOE. She's deriving financial benefit from multiple angles, while her husband works political deals to block financial accountability legislation for the school system so these unethical deals aren't questioned or exposed. Smells like a conflict of interest without deodorant.
A Maryland State Financial Disclosure requires an elected official to disclose all of the properties that are owned. It appears there are rental properties undisclosed under his companies. Adams was involved in proposing eviction legislation that would allow a landlord to seize the personal belongings of tenants who are evicted. You can read the press release here, which the entire Lower Shore Delegation supported the legislation and tried to sell before the Wicomico County Council in this recording on December 21, 2021. As an elected official, it's unethical to be involved or to vote on legislation that's related to one's interests. Christopher Adams is a landlord. Here are his some of his rental properties:
1530 N SALISBURY BLVD SALISBURY MD 21801
2313 PINE WAY DRIVE SALISBURY MD 21804
611 BOOTH ST SALISBURY 21801
7210 KELLY RD SALISBURY 21804
2314 HUDSON DRIVE SALISBURY MD 21804
2323 HUDSON DRIVE SALISBURY MD 21804
2324 HUDSON DRIVE SALISBURY MD 21804
2325 HUDSON DRIVE SALISBURY MD 21804
300 ANDERSON STREET FRUITLAND MD 21826
302 ANDERSON STREET FRUITLAND MD 21826
304 ANDERSON STREET FRUITLAND MD 21826
7614 LONGFIELD DR HEBRON MD 21830-1681
12455 CHESTNUT CIRCLE PRINCESS ANNE, MD 21853
12447 CHESTNUT CIRCLE PRINCESS ANNE, MD 21853
12460 CHESTNUT CIRCLE PRINCESS ANNE, MD 21853
In conclusion, what Delegate Adams is doing may not be illegal, but highly unethical before the taxpayers. An elected official can own all the businesses they want. To think that an elected official should not own a business would be completely missing the point. It's what one does with their business while seated as an elected official. He should recuse himself from anything having to do with his personal interests while he serves in the capacity as a Maryland State Delegate. We do know that he is conducting unethical business with the state and also answered untruthfully on his Financial Disclosure, which is called Perjury. Perhaps the Maryland State Ethics Commission is to blame for not asking the right questions, not actually reviewing the submitted Financial Disclosures, or not bothering to look into the blatantly obvious. An election is in the forecast, and we cannot trust the corrupt state to look after us. As citizens, we can change the course of tomorrow to decide who we want to be in office. Adams can't have it both ways. He's either for the people or for himself. It looks like he has demonstrated where he stands.