Law blog roundup: Rebel attorneys and election-year litigation

It’s back to work after an extended weekend, and you’ll want to check out the news on billing rates.

Here’s a special Tuesday edition of the law blog roundup for your shortened work week.

Quotation marks: you’re using them wrong

OK, so this isn’t strictly about law. I mean, it is insofar as it relates to the governor’s race and the governor signs things into law and both major candidates are lawyers. But really, it’s about grammar. Bear with me.

I just got a press release from the O’Malley campaign entitled, “Ehrlich’s ‘Faux’ Education Facts.” It goes on to use “faux,” in quotes, twice in the body of the press release. What the O’Malley folks are clearly trying to say is that Ehrlich’s facts are phony. What they are actually doing is casting doubt on the phoniness of Ehrlich’s facts by putting the word faux in quotes. It’s like when a store advertises, “Sale today! 50 percent off ‘everything’ in the store!” The store wants to emphasize that everything they have is on sale, but what they end up doing is making people wonder what’s not on sale.

What the O’Malley campaign should have done was used one of the two following titles: 1) “Ehrlich’s Faux Education Facts” (no quotation marks) or 2) “Ehrlich’s Education ‘Facts’” (quotation marks around the correct word).

To recap today’s lesson from an uptight grammar nerd: quotation marks are not for emphasis. Use them sparingly and wisely. And if you want a good laugh, go visit the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

Will the governor come calling?

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler might soon be getting a call from Gov. Martin O’Malley, if he hasn’t already received one, seeking a campaign donation.

The governor, in his solicitation, might raise the following points:

  • Gansler is running unopposed for re-election; O’Malley is not.
  • Gansler has campaign money he need not spend on himself; O’Malley does not.
  • Gansler might want to run for governor in four years; O’Malley cannot if he wins re-election this fall against Republican challenger Robert Ehrlich and is term-limited out of office.
  • Gansler, if he plans a gubernatorial run, thus has a rooting interest in O’Malley’s victory this fall, as it is easier to win an open seat than one occupied by an incumbent (O’Malley’s win over then-Gov. Ehrlich in 2006 being an exception).

But cheers of “Go, Martin, Go” do not win re-election fights. Money does — and Gansler has plenty to spare.

The attorney general might also want to spread the wealth. Donating to many Democrats in tight races this fall could be an investment that pays dividends for Gansler in 2014 when he might seek gubernatorial-campaign support.

Womble Womble, O’Malley fall down?

When former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich opened the Baltimore office of Womble Carlyle about a month after leaving office three years ago, taking key legal and public relations staff with him, there were those who wondered about the move: Was it a law office, or campaign headquarters?

The Maryland Democratic Party has wondered more vocally over the years, and according to the Baltimore Sun’s Maryland Politics blog, took formal action Thursday by writing to the state Board of Elections, challenging the propriety of the arrangement in light of Ehrlich’s expected return to the political sphere.

State, Constellation need to settle ASAP, Ehrlich says

Constellation Energy Group Inc. and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration could be hammering out a deal to settle their dueling lawsuits as you read this blog post.

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. sure hopes the two sides will see eye-to-eye sooner rather than later. As he sees it, the lawsuits are “a loser for both parties and we hope it gets settled pretty quickly.”

Ehrlich was governor during the General Assembly’s special session in 2006 where the $386 million deal was sealed, but he wasn’t happy with it then, and he isn’t happy with it now.

“If the right thing would have been done in 2006 there wouldn’t be a lawsuit,” he told me.

In fact, Ehrlich vetoed the legislation in favor of giving customers $600 million, but only if Constellation’s merger with Florida Light & Power went through. As you might recall, that deal went up in smoke, which would have left ratepayers without any relief for the 72 percent rate hike.

What do you think? Was Ehrlich’s deal the better option?

DANIELLE ULMAN, Business Writer