Ethics Complaint Filed
There was more fallout today from news about the activities of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s personal lawyer, David Hamilton, who has been helping his legal clients set up meetings with the governor and other state officials in Annapolis but has not registered as a lobbyist.
A group of citizens east of Baltimore who are fighting efforts to build a liquid natural gas terminal (LNG) at an abandoned shipyard have filed a formal complaint with the state ethics commission against Hamilton. One of Hamilton's clients is the firm that plans to build the facility, and Hamilton joined his client in meetings with two lawmakers about getting the state's assistance.
"It has been reported that David Hamilton was retained as Counsel for Barletta Willis LLC to obtain state funds for dredging at the Sparrows Point Shipyard and to facilitate a planned LNG import terminal at that site. It has also been reported that Mr. Hamilton has had meetings about these projects with legislators and other State of Maryland officials, including Sen. Norman R. Stone, Jr. (D-Baltimore County), who represents the community, and Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore County), who oversees the capital budget," wrote Bart S. Fisher, who is the lawyer for the group, which calls itself the LNG Opposition Team, in his letter to the ethics commission.
"Following those meetings a grant of $150,000 was in fact received by SPS Limited Partnership for the purpose of dredging at the Sparrows Point Shipyard site, and appears in the FY 2007 Maryland Executive Budget," Fisher wrote, adding "Mr. Hamilton's actions make a mockery of the Maryland lobbying rules and should not be countenanced."
Hamilton did not return messages left at his office and on his cell phone. But he has provided The Post with a lengthy statement in which he explains how he functions as a lawyer, not a lobbyist --and suggests that his clients retain Annapolis lobbyist Bill Pitcher for their lobbying needs.
"In meetings that we have attended with members of the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch, Bill engages in the sort of dialogue that meets the definition of lobbying under the statute." Hamilton wrote. " I am there to explain legal issues surrounding the client. I gave you the example of Barletta, which we represent jointly, and Bill and I met with members of the General Assembly. Bill addressed budgetary requests, and I explained Barletta's status in conjunction with an EPA consent decree and its relationship to the State's Brownfields program. In all matters in which I have worked with Bill or another lobbyist, we have taken great care to avoid the appearance of impropriety and to abide by all rules that govern what we do or have done."
The governor's office has not commented on the matter, other than to make this brief statement: "The governor and Dave have been friends for 24 years," said Henry Fawell, Ehrlich's spokesman. "The governor believes David has always conducted himself in an ethical manner."
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