This story was updated at 1:05 p.m. Oct. 4, 2022, to include comments from Casey Anderson and more information. It was updated at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5, 2022, to include comment from Partap Verma.
The County Council is fining Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson a month’s pay after a recent investigation found he stored liquor in his county office in Wheaton and shared drinks with some colleagues.
The council also decided to fine board Vice Chair Partap Verma and board Commissioner Carol Rubin a day’s pay each for their involvement. The council held multiple closed door sessions to deliberate on what action to take regarding Anderson’s employment or pay.
As chair of the Planning Board and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Anderson currently makes more than $200,000 a year. The commission includes members from the planning boards of both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and focuses on parks and planning issues affecting both counties.
The commission has a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol consumption in the workplace, according to its rules and guidelines. In a brief interview, Anderson said he has accepted the council’s decision, and declined further comment.
Anderson also declined to comment on the decisions against Verma and Rubin. Rubin could not immediately be reached for comment.
Verma said in an interview on Wednesday that he was served a drink by Anderson on his first day as a Planning Board member in September 2019, but he declined it, as he does not drink alcohol.
The commission’s Inspector General interviewed him in September, after a anonymous whistleblower had sent an email to that office about an alleged bar in Anderson’s office, Verma said.
“I was aware, and had reason to know there was alcohol in the building, I didn’t know there was a bar … I should have reported it back in 2019, but I wasn’t aware of the [commission’s] rules at the time,” Verma said.
He declined to comment on whether he thought the one-day salary fine was fair. County Planning Board members are paid at least $30,000 annually for their roles on the county board and the bi-county commission.
“Montgomery County Planning Board leadership must model the behavior that we want all employees to display … . The three commissioners also must attend Employee Assistance Program counseling which is consistent with the Commission’s protocol,” the County Council said in a statement about its decision.
WJLA first reported news last month that, according to a report from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Office of the Inspector General, Anderson had more than 32 liquor bottles in his Wheaton office. Since September 2020, he would share drinks during off-business hours with multiple colleagues, according to the inspector general report.
During the inspector general’s investigation, Anderson denied pressuring anyone to drink with him, WJLA reported. Upon hearing from those in the inspector general’s office, he cleared out his bar and sent a picture that he had done so, according to the report.
Anderson has served on the Planning Board since 2011 and as chair since 2014. He was most recently reappointed in 2019, and his term expires in 2023.