October 29, 2012

Republican legislators angry at failure to release gambling data

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House Minority Leader Tony O'Donnell speaks during special session.

House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell speaks during special session.

By Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com

Republican legislators are riled up that data they asked for months ago on the proposed expansion of gambling has still not been handed over to them by the Department of Legislative Services.

Since June, Del. Susan Krebs and House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell have asked for all the information supplied by PricewaterhouseCoopers that was used by legislative analysts to recommend a sixth casino in Prince George’s County.

But all the GOP leaders have gotten so far is a copy of a $61,730 bill from Pricewaterhouse showing charges of $448 an hour to $793 an hour, and some correspondence explaining the working relationship between the consultants and the Legislative Services staff. Other documents and emails are being reviewed by Assistant Attorney General Bonnie Kirkland, who said she could release some of the documents “soon.”

“I’ve never gotten a formal response from any of the formal inquiries that I’ve made,” O’Donnell said. “They just ignore you.” O’Donnell wrote to House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch on Aug. 13 and again on Oct. 17, asking for the material.

Del. Susan Krebs

Del. Susan Krebs

Consultant’s data called proprietary

O’Donnell was particularly miffed that he and other legislators were not allowed to see information that was given to the nonpartisan legislative staff. DLS director of policy analysis Warren Deschenaux says it is “obliged to protect” PwC’s “proprietary data, tools and methods.”

“It shows the flawed manipulation of the process that this thing was passed on,” O’Donnell said. The refusal “shines a light on the culture of the various organs of the [Democratic] monopoly” in Annapolis, he said.

The Department of Legislative Services hired Pricewaterhouse in 2008 after a competitive bid to help support the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission review license applications for casinos.

In April, DLS asked the consulting firm to help it make recommendations to a gambling workgroup created by the governor.

In a letter to Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Busch, Deschenaux explained that all the DLS presentations were collaborative with Pricewaterhouse, and what was presented to the gambling workgroup was “our joint product.”

Krebs was expecting that Pricewaterhouse prepared some kind of report. “It just sort of stuck in my craw that we can’t get this,” Krebs said.

First, “there wasn’t really anything,” then “there are boxes of stuff”

When she began asking for the material in June, “they told me there really wasn’t anything,” Krebs said. As she pressed them for all written correspondence and emails, “then they told me there are boxes of stuff.”

Kirkland confirmed that there was lots of material to review. She is part of the General Assembly’s Office of General Counsel, which advises both the legislators and their staff.

O’Donnell complained that the Office of the Attorney General has become “the protector of this” and that the nonpartisan staff of Legislative Services is not as cooperative with Republicans as it is with the Democratic leadership.

This is an ongoing complaint by Republican leaders in both the Senate and the House.

  • As a former Big 4 consultant, and Federal Senior Executive I can tell you that the Federal Government never spent $448 per hour (let alone $793/hour) for such a study. As a Big 4 consultant my commercial rate was $725/hour, but we only got $350/hour for commercial engagements. Federal work was in the $250/hour range. Furthermore, not getting a final summary report is unforgivable. My clients would never have tolorated boxes of workpapers as a deliverable. Whoever agreed to these outrageous rates should be terminated for wasting taxpayer funds.