September 19, 2012

State Roundup, September 19, 2012

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TRANSPARENCY: Comptroller Peter Franchot urged Gov. Martin O’Malley and the General Assembly yesterday to move to a system of immediate online disclosure of political donations and spending, contending it would improve the transparency of government in Maryland, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Franchot also blasted his former colleagues in the General Assembly for conducting a “secretive” special session on gambling last month that he said was a “blatant subversion of our founding principles,” writes John Wagner of the Post.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: A commission set up to advise the General Assembly how to reform its laws governing campaign financing edged closer to consensus on some key issues but has a lot of ground to cover at its final meeting scheduled for Sept. 27, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

GAMBLING LOBBY FUNDS: In writing about the recent financial disclosures of gambling interests, Tim Prudente of the Capital-Gazette writes that while the Cordish Cos. was has stayed out of the multimillion-dollar advertising blitz targeting the voters who will decide on gambling expansion in the state, it paid more than $50,000 to a team of attorneys and company executives to lobby on legislation that would expand gaming in Maryland.

MGM Resorts International put another $3 million into a campaign to expand gambling in Maryland, bringing their total to $8.3 million, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

The Sun’s Michael Dresser writes that, with seven weeks to go before the Nov. 6 election, special interests with a stake in the gambling referendum have raised more than the amount spent by candidates in Maryland’s last governor’s race.

Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner also reports on the latest disclosures.

GAMBLING BENEFIT: The editorial board of the Sun says that Maryland has found a way to financially benefit from gambling: bringing in lots of lobbying money from just the contemplation of its expansion.

NAACP SUPPORT FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Supporters of same-sex marriage in Maryland are touting the support of Bob Ross, the president of the Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP, blogs John Wagner of the Post. There’s a video of his ad embedded in the blog.

BIZ ON IRAN BAN LIST: The Maryland Board of Public Works is expected to put 22 companies on notice today that they must show they are not investing in Iran’s energy sector or be disqualified from doing business with the state, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. None is U.S.-based and none currently does business in the state.

YOUNG VOTERS: Sara Blumberg of the Capital-Gazette writes about idealistic young voters who face a dose of reality in the political world.

BLOW AGAINST TRANSPARENCY: U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen called a federal court ruling allowing tax-exempt groups to conceal the identities of their donors “a blow against transparency in the funding of political campaigns.”

NO HARRIS-LaFERLA DEBATE: Eastern Shore residents, and perhaps the rest of the nation, will miss the opportunity to hear two physicians slug it out for Maryland’s 1st Congressional District seat on the issue of national health care, since U.S. Rep. Andy Harris is refusing to debate John LaFerla because he is a write-in candidate. Harris had been challenged by Wendy Rosen until she bowed out of the race amid allegations of voter fraud, writes Daniel Menefee of the Talbot Spy.

VAN HOLLEN MEETS THE 8th: Rep. Van Hollen on Monday continued to acquaint himself with the issues and concerns facing his newest constituents in the areas of the Maryland’s 8th Congressional District added in last year’s redistricting, writes Sam Smith of MarylandReporter.com. The area is more conservative than his old district and has more farmland, more small municipalities and spans three counties.

ACTION AGAINST BAR URGED: A group of state lawmakers and a Baltimore County councilman are urging the Baltimore County liquor board to take action against a Parkville bar where a security guard was fatally stabbed this month, writes Alison Knezevich for the Sun.

ALSTON DEAL UNLIKELY: Prince George’s Del. Tiffany Alston is unlikely to reach a deal with state prosecutors this week that would allow her to avoid a trial on charges that she tried to use campaign money to help pay for her wedding, writes Ann Marimow for the Post.

ELECTION JUDGES WANTED: Montgomery County is looking for about 4,000 election judges to staff its 238 precincts and five early voting places, writes Kate Alexander for the Gazette.

DAVIS, STEELE HIRED: The Montgomery County police union on Monday hired Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton, and Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, as consultants for a referendum campaign on collective bargaining rights, Victor Zapana blogs in the Post.