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Md. Common Cause Seeks Friends in High Places

Add to the list of sponsors of legislative receptions usually reserved for high-priced Annapolis lobbyists: Common Cause Maryland.

The non-profit government watchdog group is hosting is first-ever reception for lawmakers Monday night, in the Montgomery County delegation room of the House Office Building. No, it's not Morton's Steak House. But it's a chance for Common Cause to wins friends and influence as many important people as possible.

"I just don't think this kind of thing should be the domain of Bruce Bereano or the beer and beverage people," executive director Ryan O'Donnell said, referring to one of the state capital's most high-profile lobbyists.

O'Donnell said he has been kidded by lawmakers and colleagues alike that his reception "is totally incongruous" with Common Cause's identity. "But we're a citizen lobby too," he said. "We want to influence people."

The reception will feature Maryland wine (discounted from a local purveyor) and assorted crudites, the price of which will not top "a few hundred dollars," O'Donnell said. (The food will be provided gratis by a chef who sits on the Common Cause board).

Among the legislation the group is supporting this year are bills to amend the state constitution to allow residents to register to vote on Election Day, require the Board of Elections to have an aggressive warrantee on new voting machines, and require a special election to be held to replace any U.S. senator who leaves office early, dubbed the Rod Blogojevich bill for the ousted Illinois governor.

As of Tuesday night, two dozen lawmakers had RSVPd for Monday's event.

By Lisa Rein  |  February 3, 2009; 7:03 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , Lisa Rein  
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