Mayday – Again

None of the following post should be seen as a criticism of any candidate in the CD8 race. My problem here is not with Jamie Raskin or anyone else, but with Mayday, which is quite frankly about as hypocritical and naive as a political entity can get. With that said, here we go.

The super PAC that wants to end super PACs is back in CD8, attacking Kathleen Matthews – again – and this time blaming her for Marriott acting like what it is – a big business. John Fritze alerted us to it yesterday on Twitter.

   
   

Mayday argues as follows:

MAYDAY.US, the grassroots campaign committed to election reform, today released a graphic aiming to shed further light on candidate Kathleen Matthews’s involvement in pay to play politics. When she was a corporate executive at Marriott, she led a government affairs operation.

“It’s a disturbing pattern and one the voters care about deeply,” explained Executive Director Cyrus Patten. 
“The voters deserve to get answers about whether Kathleen believes it is acceptable for corporate interests to buy government support, why she contributed money to a conservative Republican when she claims to be a progressive Democrat, and why she told a mostly corporate board that she wanted to be their advocate in Congress. The people of Maryland need an advocate for them, not for corporate executives!”

The graphic shows a clear pattern of Matthews and other corporate interests contributing to legislators with the power to influence key legislation to the benefit of their industry. After these contributions were made, Congress authorized $100 million per year to promote travel, directly leading to increased profits for these corporations.

There’s even a picture:

  
Multiple problems. First, as before, however deliciously ironic the puckish rogues at Mayday think it is to have a super PAC arguing against super PACs, this kind of attack ad won’t help the guy they’re trying to help, Jamie Raskin. In this case, besides the general loathing for super PACs and IEs around here, this ad is deceptive and dishonest. It takes Matthews’ one acknowledged 2014 contribution to Roy Blunt and implies quite clearly that she is responsible for all of Marriott’s contributions to members of Congress. She’s not.

This “attack” is also naive to the point of stupidity. Does Mayday think that all lobbying is bad? Apparently so, because at one point they say:

“The question isn’t whether the legislation is good or bad, or whether Roy Blunt is good or bad. The question is, should federal dollars be used to increase the profits of companies solely because they can afford big campaign contributions and expensive lobbyists? And if Kathleen Matthews has engaged in that practice in the past and says she wants to continue to be their advocate in Congress, then the voters deserve to know.”

Good lord. So if I lobby a legislator on behalf of, say, laws to purchase new and better voting equipment, and I am an outside lobbyist for the company that makes the better machines, that’s no different than, say, an oil company lobbying to open up oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas? That’s so absurd as to amount to unilateral disarmament on the part of the left. Spare me that righteous and naive bullshit.

OF COURSE IT MATTERS WHETHER THE LEGISLATION IS GOOD OR BAD. Just as one example, Eric Gally is a lobbyist for environmental and other good causes in Annapolis. Is he “bad” simply for having the word “lobbyist” next to his name? Of course not. If I lobby for election law changes or criminal justice reform, and a bill passes in Annapolis that I like, is it “bad” that I reward the legislators who helped get it passed with a donation? Apparently so, because Mayday lumps in Matthews contributions to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and former Senator Max Baucus, both Democrats, as objects of criticism. Again, dumb. 

And hello – Marriott advocating for federal support of travel and tourism is good too. Everyone benefits from increased activity of this kind, as it stimulates consumer spending and income to those in the tourism industry.

“Lobbying” isn’t the problem – it’s the bad things that some companies and wealthy individuals lobby for that’s the problem. The fact that a super PAC like Mayday can’t see this is an even bigger problem. I really wish they’d go away and let the candidates in CD8 slug it out on their own. We don’t need any help from naive and foolish groups that can’t even define the issues correctly.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

As we head into the holidays, there’s going to be a wasteland period with little if any news to report. MD candidates are scrambling (product placement alert!) to finish Q4 fundraising with a flourish, but that’s about it. And we not have anything to talk about in terms of new numbers until January 15, although the whispering has already begun.

So to fill the space and hopefully provide some entertainment and information, I’m going to put it out to you, dear readers. 

Here’s a series of questions: if you have a campaign to run, who do you want to manage it? How about field? Which consultants are you hoping to engage? Which local activists do you want on your team?

Similarly, you’ve got a bill you want to pass in Annapolis or the counties: which lobbyist/activist/lawyer would you want to run your advocacy?

I want nominations. Totally anonymous, even better if you give me reasons why. I may use the narrative answers in a post, but again, they’re anonymous.

Categories:

1. Campaigns. A. Staff B. Activists C. Consultants

2. Policy. A. Lobbyists B. Activists C. Lawyers

Once I have nominations, I will create a poll that will allow the Maryland Scramble readership to vote in utterly unscientific fashion, so some folks can brag and others can curse the unfair voting system. Self-nominations are permitted, and I may throw a few in myself if they don’t show up in your submissions.

Before Christmas, we’re going to answer the question “who ya gonna call?” to see who are the biggest, baddest and most effective politicos in all the land – or at least Maryland.

I even created a new email – MarylandScramble@gmail.com – just for this little exercise. You can use it to cents for me for other blog-related communications, or you can use the site’s sidebar for non-public comments as well.

The floor is open. Whatcha got for me?

Big Spenders

Want to know who spent how much on lobbying in Annapolis this year? The Baltimore Sun has the information you need. Top spenders: the teachers’ union and Exelon, the new mega-utility in town.

Top 10

The top 10 businesses, industry groups and other entities that spent the most on lobbying in Annapolis during a four-month period encompassing the 2015 session of the General Assembly.

1) $446,242 Maryland State Education Association
2) $368,673 Exelon Corp.
3) $345,719 Maryland Hospital Association
4) $329,432 CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
5) $310,398 MedChi, the Maryland state medical society
6) $290,203 Maryland Bankers Association
7) $284,549 Maryland Retailers Association
8) $271,270 Maryland Catholic Conference, LLC

9) $270,045 Johns Hopkins Institutions

10) $263,641 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

More lobbying and lobbyist information is available at the website of the State Ethics Commission. Ethics.maryland.gov.

Josh Kurtz: “Follow The Money”

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.