Lobbying continues to be a growth industry in Annapolis, with $18 million spent this past session to lobby the legislature and state government, according to figures combined by Common Cause from State Ethics Commission filings.
More than a quarter of that spending, $4.5 million, came from health care interests.
The result is not a surprise given the state’s heavy role in both regulating and paying for health care, which makes up more than $12 billion (31%) of the total state budget, including federal funds.
Still, $18 million makes lobbying pretty much a cottage industry of small firms, which is reflected by the fact that more than half of that money went to the top 10 lobbyists.
At the very top of the heap this year, earning $1.8 million, one-tenth of all the money spent by hundreds of firms on hundreds of lobbyists, is Gerry Evans, long one of the top 10 earners. Unlike most of the others in that elite class, Evans does not share his money with other partners, except for his daughter, Hayley.
“No more firms, no more big firms,” said Evans, who once partnered with some of the other top lobbyists. “The partnership is the worst ship that ever sailed the sea,” with constant haggling about how to divide fees, he said.
Include All Expenses
The reports filed with the State Ethics Commission reflect all the money billed clients and includes money for rent, staff, overhead and expenses, including dinners and receptions for committees and the entire legislature. Lobbyists are no longer allowed to take lawmakers out, one-on-one, for meals or drinks.
“The dinners go into your numbers,” and when he shares clients with other lobbyists, “they fight over the dinners,” which adds another $25,000 to $40,000 for what shows up as their compensation. “Generally, we stay away from [dinners],” said Evans.
Last year’s top grossing lobbyist was Tim Perry who also grossed $1.8 million, according to ethics commission figures. He came in second this past session at $1.15 million.
Back to the Top
Evans had to crawl back to the top of the heap from a federal conviction in 2000 of mail and wire fraud for colluding with a legislator to concoct a bill that he would try to kill, with clients footing the bill.
“It was tough fighting back,” said Evans, and after his prison sentence, he restarted his practice with one client: Peter Angelos, the head of the personal injury law firm and owner of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles. Evans still represents Angelos and the team, and he regained most of his other clients. He had 49 clients this past session, including BGE, Verizon, the Maryland Hospital Association, transportation builders and firefighters.
“Fortunately, people knew me down here,” Evans said. “They knew my work ethic. They knew that what happened was kind of ridiculous. Unfortunately, justice in this country is accidental.”
Relationship With Miller
Like other top lobbyists, Evans has a long-term relationship with Senate President Mike Miller.
Evans’ connection to Miller goes back 40 years, when Evans was a student at the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP). He recalls calling up the internship office after most of the Annapolis internships had been filled. There was one new senator who needed help. That was Miller.
“Is he going anywhere?” Evans said he asked, laughing. “I don’t want to work for someone that’s not going anywhere.”
“I made $73 a week,” Evans said. “I did everything. I answered the phones, I wrote letters, I did his laundry, I washed his car. He had no other staff.”
Of course, Miller went somewhere, and Evans worked for him later when he chaired the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Miller’s current chief of staff, Vicki Gruber, worked for Evans years ago as an intern.
He now teaches a large class at UMCP called “Advocacy in the American Political Process.” But he says you can’t really teach lobbying.
Laying Proper Groundwork
“If you lay the proper groundwork off session, then your session work is much easier, because you’ve done your foundational work necessary to have a good session,” Evans said. “If you start working the first day of the session, you’re done; it’s over.” He said, “The hardest part about being a lobbyist” is managing a client’s expectations on how long it may take to pass a bill.
“We have a very activist legislature,” and “there are mine fields everywhere. Killing a bill, that’s a thousand times easier, but passing legislation down here is very difficult,” he said.
On that note, he added, “Never threaten a legislator,” although he sees people do it all the time. “You have to live to fight another day. There are no permanent friends down here. You can’t make it personal.”
And while his relationship with Miller is important, Evans said, “Mike has told me ‘no’ for every time he’s told me ‘yes.’”
At the Top
Besides Evans and Perry this past session, the other top grossing lobbyists and their firms were: Joel Rozner, $968,908 (Rifkin, Weiner); former Senate majority leader Rob Garagiola, $927,415 (Alexander & Cleaver); Lisa Harris Jones (Harris Jones & Malone); Bruce Bereano, $896,450 (a solo practitioner); Michael Johansen, $866,165 (Rifkin Weiner); Nicholas Manis, $769,330 (Manis Canning); Frank Boston III, $688,088 (solo); and Steven Wise $648,856 (Schwartz, Metz & Wise).
While Evans and Perry were the top grossing individual lobbyists for the six months ending April 30, other firms with more registered lobbyists, like those above, grossed more for the year ending Oct. 30, 2014. Evans was ninth on that top 10 list:
Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, $3,271,660; Alexander & Cleaver, $3,154,005; Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson, $2,778,942; Manis, Canning & Associates, $2,682,800; Harris Jones & Malone, $2,048,183; Capitol Strategies, $1,772,635; Venable LLP, $1,760,515; G.S. Proctor & Associates, $1,236,358; Gerard E. Evans Ltd., $1,209,000; and Schwartz, Metz & Wise, $1,405,952.
Hartzell: New CAO
Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has appointed Mark Hartzell as chief administrative officer.
Since 2010, Hartzell has been an executive vice president with Computershare Inc. and serves as a member of the U.S. Executive Committee. Computershare is a global provider of financial services. As executive vice president, he led the sales and marketing division of the company.
“Mark brings the perfect set of skills to administer effectively county government,” said Schuh, in a statement. “I’m grateful that a senior executive with global responsibilities is willing to forgo a lucrative private sector position to help his home county.”
Prior to his time at Computershare, Hartzell was a managing director at J.P. Morgan Chase, where he led the global sales and client management organization.
“Having grown up in Anne Arundel County, I’m honored to have the opportunity to put my private sector experience to work,” Hartzell said.
Hartzell grew up in Annapolis. As a teenager, he attended Arundel and St. Mary’s high schools, and is a graduate of Beloit College. His mother resides in Crofton, and his brother, an Anne Arundel County police officer for 27 years, lives in Pasadena.