Josh Kurtz: “Follow The Money”

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Josh Kurtz at Center Maryland has a wide-ranging column today, covering lobbying ((did you know 15 lobbyists made over $500,000 each during the 2015 legislative session?), Bruce Bereano’s outsized influence over the Tawes Crab Feast, a legendary Maryland political event being held tomorrow in Crisfield (the air conditioned Bereano tent is so lovely), and the database of expense reimbursements put together by Chase Cook of the Capital Gazette (among other things, legislators from Anne Arundel County took the maximum reimbursement for hotels despite living close by).

Eye opening and sobering, Kurtz’s amble through the piles of money changing hands in Annapolis is a catalog of reminders that, in Maryland, arguably more than in most places, he or she who had the gold makes the rules and the laws. A sampling:

In all, 109 lobbyists have earned $50,000 or more since Nov. 1. Perhaps Annapolis isn’t such a sleepy town after all.

If nothing else, the Maryland lobbying class – along with the political class – has become more professionalized than it once was, and is feasting on the financial opportunities. Now, more than ever, you’ve got to follow the money to figure out what’s going on in Maryland politics – at a time when media coverage of the State House is more limited than it’s ever been.
Twenty-nine entities spent $150,000 or more on lobbying in the six-month period, and 179 spent at least $50,000. As is often the case, the health care and energy sectors were the big spenders.

I’ve talked about these issues before, and will continue to do so. Full disclosure: as part of my background research I’m going to Tawes tomorrow, but I promise not to go into the Bereano tent - unless it gets really, really hot. Ethics is one thing, but air conditioning is a basic necessity of modern life.

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