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About Ethics Commission

The Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission administers the Public Ethics Law. It is an independent agency, performing its duties and responsibilities without the oversight of the county government.
It is served by a staff of two employees, an executive director, who is a lawyer licensed to practice law in Maryland, and an assistant to the commission.

The Members of the Commission
The members of the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission are volunteers.  Three of the members are nominated by the county council and four are selected by the county executive, subject to the approval of the county council. . Each member serves a four-year term, and no more than four members may belong to the same political party. The Anne Arundel County Charter, Article X, Section 1001 establishes the qualifications for membership on the commission as follows:
  • A commission member must be a resident of Anne Arundel County
  • A commission member may not hold and may not be a candidate for an elected or appointed office of the federal, state, or local government or a political party
  • A commission member may not be an employee of the federal, state, or local government or a political party
  • A commission member may not be a lobbyist required to register under any federal, state, or local public ethics law
  • A commission member may not participate in the campaign of a candidate for elective office, or support or oppose a ballot question at any general or special election, except a question directly affecting the commission

The Chairperson

Emerson C. Davis is a retired police officer with the Anne Arundel County Police Department.  He retired as Deputy Chief of Police after serving 35 years.  He has served as an Ex-Officio member of the Anne Arundel County Commission on Disability Issues and the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Commission.  Mr. Davis has earned a Bachelor’s Degree from York College of Pa. in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Applied Behavioral Science and Leadership. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.  Mr. Davis, born and raised in Pennsylvania, has lived in Anne Arundel County since 1976 and resides in Arnold with his wife Donna.  He has two grown sons.  Mr. Davis is a registered Republican.  


The Members 

Karl Appel is a Certified Public Accountant and Managing Partner of The Gardiner & Appel Group in Severna Park, Maryland. He works with local individuals and businesses, and is committed to providing financial expertise for his clients.


Karl graduated with honors from The University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, and has a Master of Science in Taxation from the University of Baltimore. He spent the first twelve years of his career with two major accounting firms, Peat Marwick (now KPMG), and Deloitte. He then worked as Chief Financial Officer for The Circle Companies, a real estate development company, before joining The Gardiner Group in 1998.


Karl is a Registered Investment Advisor, and was awarded the Small Business Administration’s Maryland Accountant Champion of the Year in 2006. He recently completed the Executive Integral Leadership program at The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.


Professional affiliations include AICPA, MACPA, Severna Park/Arnold Chamber of Commerce (Past President 2010-2011), the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Maryland (Past President 1995). Karl currently serves on the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission, and has been on the Finance Committee at Chartwell Country Club for the past seven years.


A native of Western Pennsylvania, Karl has lived in Severna Park, Maryland for 35 years with his wife Leigh. They have two daughters, Lynn and Jessica, and son-in-law Dan Severn.

Karl Appel

Katherine K Cawood is a semi-retired attorney.  She graduated from Georgetown Law in 1961 and was admitted to the Maryland Bar that fall.  After practicing law in Annapolis for many years, she moved her office to her home, "Evergreen" in southern Anne Arundel County.  She is the widow of The Honorable James C. Cawood, Jr. who was on the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for many years.  Mrs. Cawood and her husband have seven children and 12 grandchildren.  She is a registered Democrat.


Vanessa S. Carter retired from Anne Arundel County in 2015 after 22 years of service, 18 of them with the Department of Health. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in urban planning from Michigan State University, and received her Masters of Arts degree in management from Notre Dame of Maryland University.
Vanessa is currently a member of the 21st Century Club, and the Maryland Sister States Committee for the Leningrad Region of the Russian Federation. She has served on a variety of boards and committees including Arundel Community Development Services, Leadership Anne Arundel, Chrysalis House, London Town Foundation, Opportunity Builders, Department of Social Services, Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, the YWCA’s Tribute to Women and Industry awards, and was a member of the founding board of trustees for the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center in Annapolis.
Vanessa S. Carter

Thomas J. Mulrenin (“TJ”) is a named member of the law firm Yumkas, Vigmar, Sweeney & Mulrenin, LLC, with more than thirty seven years of experience in the field of real estate development, leasing, finance and general business counsel. His office is located in Annapolis, Maryland. TJ earned his Bachelor’s Degree with Honors from the University of Maryland and is a 1980 graduate from the University of Maryland School of Law. TJ is currently a member of the Board of Directors with Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation; Chairman of Community Health Philanthropy Council, Anne Arundel Medical Center; and a recipient of the Maryland State Bar Association Pro Bono Service Award.
TJ enjoys hiking and travelling, and hunting, boating and fishing on the bay with his grandkids. As a member of the Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors, he works to raise awareness and support for AAMC and its community programs. He participates in a medical mission trip to Guatemala each year where he translates and leads a team that constructs stoves and water purifiers in homes in the countryside.
TJ was born in New York and raised in Maryland. He resides in Annapolis with Judy, his wife of 40 years and has three grown children and three grandchildren. He is a registered Democrat.
Thomas J. Mulrenin (“TJ”)

J. Adger Stokes is retired after working in sales and management positions with the DuPont and Agfa Corporations.  He is a Vietnam War veteran, spending four years in the Army and rising to the rank of Captain in Military Intelligence.  Mr. Stokes graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  He is a former member of the Severn School Board of Trustees and served as Board Chair from 2005 – 2007.  He was also a board member of the UNC Educational Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the UNC Athletic program.  He was a past President of the Preserve at Broad Creek Homeowners Association.  He is currently a commissioner of the Anne Arundel County Veterans Commission.  Mr. Stokes was born in Richmond, VA and raised in NC.  He has lived in MD since 1985.  He resides in Annapolis with his wife, Sandra.  Mr. Stokes is a registered Republican.

 John W. Van de Kamp has a Bachelor of Science from the Air Force Academy and a Master’s from Creighton University.  From USAF Second Lieutenant to Colonel, he was an Intelligence officer, flew  B-52s during the Cold War, and war-gamed strategic missions at Strategic Air Command Headquarters.

At the Pentagon, he developed decision-making options for the Air Force Chief of Staff for meetings with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of Defense. At Headquarters US Southern Command, he advised the Commander-in-Chief on strategy, policy, and operations, and briefed Senators, Congressmen, and national press, during the conflict with Noriega.
At the Pentagon, in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, he wrote national security strategy, policy and decision-making guidance and Congressional testimony questions, answers, and press guidance for Secretaries of Defense Weinberger and Cheney, speeches for  the Secretaries of Defense and talking points for President Reagan. At  the State Department, he did similar work for Secretary of State Baker, and carried the Central American Peace Plan to leaders there.
John developed international business for a major defense contractor, mediated conflicts at Anne Arundel Medical Center, built and led their Spanish interpretation program. John and his wife are active members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, helping Annapolis’s poor  with food, utilities, evictions, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and Christmas gifts for children.  He helped write St Mary’s Parish’s strategic plan and a served three terms as a Ward One Residents’ Association board member. He is fluent in Spanish and French.
John is guest columnist for the Capital, and was an editorial board member. He and his wife Kitty live on the Annapolis Neck. John is a registered Republican.
John W. Van de Kamp

The Staff

Gina Scerbo, who joined the staff as the commission secretary in August, 2007, has over 20 years of secretarial experience. Ms. Scerbo is a native of South County and resides in Dunkirk with her husband and two daughters.


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