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Lobbying expenditures jump by $1.2 million

Corporate interests spent more than $18 million on lobbyists over the past six months in Maryland, outpacing spending for the same period a year ago by nearly $1.2 million.

The growth in spending — about 7 percent more than the same time a year ago — continues to be driven for the third straight year by the health care industry and a number of individual lobbyists are already reporting earnings that exceed their totals for the previous year, according to figures released by Maryland State Ethics Commission.

Bruce Ba

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano reported earnings of $896,450 for the first six months of 2015. (File photo)

“It’s not like there is this big new industry or issue that has come on to the scene. It’s just the steady increase of the cost of doing business in Maryland,”  Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland said of an analysis of the reports conducted by her organization.

Eleven industries spent more than $500,000 on lobbyists for the reporting period of Nov. 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015, according to the Maryland State Ethics Commission. The period includes the 90-day General Assembly session.

The health care industry once again topped the list, spending nearly $4.6 million. The figure represents a nearly $1 million increase over the same period a year ago. Overall, the health care industry spent $7.1 million last year.

“It’s interesting how that industry is ramping up spending with competitors trying to outspend each other,” Bevan-Dangel said.

This is the third year that health care has led the list of industry spending on lobbying in the state. The industry continues to outspend utility and energy companies by more than two-to-one, according to state records.

Health care spending supplanted spending by gaming interests after the passage of a bill creating the state’s sixth and final casino — MGM National Harbor.

The earnings and expenditures are part of reports released by the ethics commission on lobbyists who were paid $50,000 or more or entities or individuals who spent that much on lobbying.

The list of industries that spend more than $500,000 on lobbying include:

  • Health care — $4.57 million
  • Utility and energy groups — $1.95 million
  • Development companies and organizations — $1.55 million
  • Business organizations (chambers, retail, others) — $1.11 million
  • Gaming — $930,419
  • Telecommunications — $816,139
  • Other — $615,366
  • Private universities — $558,505
  • Education organizations — $514,499
  • Automobile industry — $511,037

 Top lobbyists pace the field

Individually, some of the state’s top lobbyists are seeing their earnings over the first six months of the reporting period exceed what they reported for the entire previous year. In fact, more than one of every two dollars spent on lobbying in Maryland went to one of the top 10 earners, according to state ethics filings.

Topping the list of 149 lobbyists and their reported earnings in the first six month is Gerard E. Evans with more than $1.8 million. The amount places him far ahead of the nearly $1.2 million he reported for the entire previous year.

Evans, a former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party and top legislative aide in 1982 to then Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and current Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.  is a perennial top earner in Maryland. Evans was convicted in 2000 of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud related to accusations that he charged clients for lobbying services related to fictitious issues he created.

Timothy Perry, another top staffer to Miller and perennial top earner, slipped to second reporting earnings of more than $1.1 million. In 2014, Perry claimed the top spot for the third consecutive year with earnings of nearly $1.9 million for the year.

Joel D. Rozner, a lobbyist for Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver LLC who once served as chief of staff to Parris N. Glendening when the latter was the Prince George’s county executive and was named to the Governor’s Commission on Lobbying Ethics after Glendening became governor, reported earnings of nearly $969,000 for the first six months. The amount is good for third on the list.

Rounding out the top 10 top earning lobbyists were Joel Rozner of Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC ($968,906); former state senator Robert Garagiola of Alexander and Cleaver ($927,415); Lisa Harris Jones of Harris Jones Malone ($904,350); Bruce Bereano ($896,450); Michael Johansen, another lobbyist for Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver ($866,165); Nicholas Manis of Manis Canning & Associates ($769,333); Frank Boston III ($688,088); and Steven Wise of Schwartz, Metz & Wise P.A. ($648,856).