Lobbyists and Felons
In the waning days of the Maryland governor's race, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) proclaimed that if elected, neither he nor his running mate, Anthony G. Brown, would meet with lobbyists who had felony convictions.
The edict was aimed at two Annapolis institutions, Gerard E. Evans and Bruce C. Bereano, who both had good relationships with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) despite his 2002 campaign pledge to end a "culture of corruption."
O'Malley and Brown will arrive in the State House next month, but it appears that business will be just fine for Evans and Bereano.
Bereano is being retained by at least 40 clients, according to recent filings with the State Ethics Commission, and Evans said his stable of clients is growing as a new legislative session approaches.
"I picked up three new clients in just the past few weeks," said Evans, who was convicted of fraud in 2000.
One Evans client that is raising eyebrows is Wal-Mart. The retailing giant has unsuccessfully fought a measure that would effectively require the company to improve health-care benefits for its Maryland employees.
The bill, which was passed over Ehrlich's veto, was struck down by a federal court, a decision now being appealed. O'Malley was a vocal supporter of the bill and on the campaign trail accused Ehrlich of "rolling over for Wal-Mart."
Evans's other high-profile clients continue to include Constellation Energy Group, the parent company of Baltimore Gas and Electric, whose planned 72.percent rate increase also became O'Malley campaign fodder; the law offices of Peter Angelos, with whom O'Malley has a strained relationship; and the Baltimore Orioles, the baseball team Angelos owns.
Evans, a former aide to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), said that his practice has always focused on the legislative branch and that his relationships there remain solid.
"It's unfortunate," Evans said of O'Malley's ban, "but it's one of those things where you just roll with the punches."
Bereano, who was convicted of fraud in 1995, would not comment.
His clients for the coming legislative session include the Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland, the state's largest provider of medical malpractice coverage for doctors, as well as many lower-profile entities, among them the Maryland Coalition of Professional Tattooists and Body Piercers.
O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said the incoming administration is sticking with its pledge.
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