February 26, 2012

Garagiola says he failed to disclose income for six years

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By Daniel Menefee
Dan@MarylandReporter.com

Sen. Rob Garagiola

Sen. Rob Garagiola

Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola confirmed Friday that he failed to disclose income as a lobbyist from 2001 to 2003, as reported by the Washington Post. But the Montgomery County Democrat also said that he didn’t report income from another law firm from 2003 to 2006.

Garagiola said he did not report income from the two employers because he misunderstood the instructions on a required financial disclosure form.

The accusations came a week after he voted to censure Sen. Ulysses Currie  for failing to disclose consulting income on required ethics forms, among other charges. The charge against Garagiola was raised by an opponent in his campaign for Congress in the 6th Congressional District, an accusation he called “just smear.”

The instructions on the financial disclosure form said to list “the name and address of any places of employment and of business entities wholly or partially owned by you…”

Confused by instructions

Based on the instructions, Garagiola believed he was only required to disclose income if he was both the owner of a business and an employee.

“Both had to apply” or none applied, he said. “My logic back in 2001 could have easily been that because I was not a partner at [Greenberg Traurig], I didn’t have to report the income or my wife’s income.”

He said the absence of “and/or” or just “or” in the instructions led him to believe he was not required to disclose any income from the two firms.

Garagiola was employed as a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig from 2001 to 2003 and as a corporate lawyer for Stein Sperling from 2003 to 2006.

He said the electronic forms changed in 2007 and the instructions were made more clear,  which is when he began to report income from Stein Sperling and his wife’s teaching income.

“So 2007 was the first year I listed my employment with Stein Sperling,” he said.

He said he also didn’t file the ethics forms as a candidate in 2001.

“I filed as a candidate for state Senate in 2001 and is probably why I didn’t file a report,” Garagiola said.

Ethics form “straight forward,” colleague says

Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, said the instructions on the ethics forms were unambiguous and that employment income must be disclosed on the ethics form — even if you don’t own a business. Shank has been in the legislature for 14 years.

“To me it has been pretty straight forward. I’ve never owned a business, but I’ve always interpreted that you list your places of employment,” Shank said. “If you have any questions about it, you err on the side of caution and ask somebody about it.”

Misunderstanding “possible”

State Ethics Commission Executive Director Michael Lord said Friday that it was possible to misinterpret that employment and business ownership must both apply in order to require disclosure — and that is why the form was changed.

Garagiola said the accusations of omitting income came from his rival in the 6th district Democratic primary, John Delaney. The Delaney campaign put out a press release Wednesday about the omission, saying, “Rob Garagiola blatantly lied to the voters about his professional experience.”

“The claim by my opponent is that I was hiding the fact that I did lobbying work for Greenberg Traurig by not filing them as my employer,” Garagiola said. “But the fact is I didn’t file employment for my wife as a teacher or employment for my other work [as a corporate lawyer].”

He said the accusations from the Delaney camp were “just smear.”

  • Pingback: Democrat Garagiola uses the ‘Geithner’ defense, says he didn’t know he had to report income « Potomac Tea Party Report()

  • Erin

    Has anyone seen delaney’s tax returns? The md state ethics commission has said that these forms were very confusing and that there was a need to clarify them. The forms were changed in 2007 for this reason. Honest mistakes and genuine confusion can happen. I think there are much bigger issues at stake in this race.

  • MDer4life

    Oh come on this just seems like a burecaucy mixup, if we hounded every person who didnit cross every T and dot every I, nothing in this country would get done, honestly this seems “much ado about nothing”

    • Zoneten09

      If it was a Republican there would be a non forgiving push to get rid of him no questions asked.

  • 6th district girl

    Will somebody give him a break! I understand why he could have been confused. There are lots of people who get confused when it comes to taxes, disclosures and all those forms. He probably filled out a hundred pages and Delaney is nit picking to find one page.

    Let’s not forget who gave money to Andy Harris…it sure wasn’t Garagiola. Delaney is simply trying to mask the fact that he’s a part-time Democrat who gave the maximum campaign contribution to someone far more conservative than Roscoe Bartlett.

  • Ami

    Can you fault him for an innocent mistake due to confusing government forms? When the instructions were simplified in 2007, Rob reported the Greenberg Traurig income, proving that the previous omission was simply an innocent mistake.

  • OHmdguy33

    Let’s get one thing clear: This is no controversy, and is nothing that Sen. Garagiola did purposely.  This issue is all due to the fact that the forms provided by the State Ethics Commission were confusing, which is why they were edited in 2007.  Even the head of the Commission acknowledges this in the article above.  The Delaney camp seeks to distract the press and the public from the fact that when it comes to transparency, they leave much to be desired. We demand that Delaney release his tax returns, and explain why he would donate to a man like Andy Harris..someone whose beliefs are such a polar opposite to what true Democrats espouse. I will leave you all with a picture of John Delaney that I would like to share lol.

  • Jason Jazinzky

    John Delaney’s camp may seek to bamboozle and confuse voters with false accusations like this, but we won’t be fooled.  Voters of the 6th District are more concerned with the issues, and individuals that actually have a RECORD to speak of on issues we Democrats hold dear to our heart.

  • Ray

    If clerical errors are Delaney’s best attacks on Garagiola, then you know that he’s scared. He can’t find something legitimate to attack Garagiola on (like a lack of experience or donating to a Republican) so he’s turning to this. This is a red herring if I’ve ever seen one.

  • Coop

    “employment owned by you”?????  Give me a break.  And he’s supposed to be a lawyer?

  • Beeline777

    With Timmy Geitner stepping down, we can have another TurboTax wizzzz take his place.