By Len Lazarick
Gerry Evans was again the top grossing lobbyist during this year’s General Assembly session, billing close to $2 million. He got a significant boost from his top client, the second highest spending lobbyist employer, the Law Offices of Peter Angelos, which spent $380,000 to lobby the legislature.
“It was a great year,” Evans said, but “I question the importance of the figure …. It’s still better than being last.”
The gross figure can be deceiving because it includes all expenses, including any office overhead that is billed.
“Businesses are encouraged by what they’re seeing” in Annapolis from Gov. Larry Hogan, Evans said. “He’s got a real open door policy after eight years of the bureaucracy running itself.”
The numbers released by the Maryland State Ethics Commission also cover only a half year, and only represent the billings by individual lobbyists. Lobbyists for state agencies and local governments are not required to register or report.
Perry on top for 12 months
In the commission’s report for the full 12 months from Nov. 1, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2015, Evans was bumped off the top by Tim Perry, who grossed $2.2 million for the full year to Evans $1.8 million. Perry came in third for the session at $1.1 million, behind Bruce Bereano with $1.4 million in second place.
Another way to look at lobbying figures is the total billings by the top grossing lobbying firms, calculated by the state commission based on the 12 months ending October 31. The totals include any lobbying of state agencies, regulators and the Board of Public Works.
For the 12 months, Evans firm, with his daughter Hayley, came in 6th among the big 10. Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson had the top slot with $3.7 million in total billings, followed by Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver in second place with $3.4 million and Alexander & Cleaver third with $3.2 million.
A full list of the top 10 in each is at the bottom of this story. Most of the top 10 grossing lobbyists and firms have been in that group for years. There’s no telling how much the lobbyists actually make in personal compensation. Any way it’s sliced, it’s a lot of money.
Common Cause Maryland, the citizen advocacy group, as usual is not pleased. Research interns added up all the figures and found that organizations spent close to $20 million to lobby the legislature this year, $1.5 million more than last year.
“What everyday Marylander has the tens of thousands of dollars needed to gain a seat at the table nowadays?” asked Erin Brown, an intern who worked on the project.
Top spending industries
In the Common Cause analysis by issue and industry, here are the top 11 industries that spent over $500,000
- Health Care – $4,525,538
- Utility and Energy Companies – $1,819,142
- Development Companies and Organizations – $1,646,655
- Business Groups (chambers, large corporations, and other industries) – $1,190,376
- Other* – $1,153,603
- Telecom Industry – $784,614
- Gambling Companies – $728,821
- Transportation- $664,952
- Automobile Industry – $660,274
- Education Organizations – $516,583
Other findings of the report include:
- Uber Technologies, the innovative service that enlists car owners to provide taxi rides, emerged as a player in the lobbying scene in 2015, spending $127,139 on a bill supporting Uber’s business practices. Despite accomplishing their goal of passing the bill, Uber spent only $3,200 less this year. This lack in decrease of spending may be attributed to an increase in competition, like Lyft.
- While just five employers had spent over $300,000 by this time in 2015, that number increased to seven this year. This year, 16 employers spent over $200,000 and 60 spent $100,000 or more.
- The highest spending employer was Maryland Hospital Association at $518,050.
- Seven new automobile lobbyist employers have emerged since 2015
- Gun regulation and manufacturing have reappeared as lobbying issues, each with one employer emerging in 2016.
- Ten major industries have decreased overall spending since 2013 (gambling, education, religious, retail, insurance, union, tobacco, waste, business, and defense), but others have more than compensated for their decline.
Top 10 lobbyists by gross billings (Nov. 1, 2015-April 30, 2016)
- Gerard Evans $1,968,400.
- Bruce Bereano $1,389,36
- Timothy Perry $1,118,359.
- Joel Rozner $1,011,300.
- Lisa Harris Jones $942,036.
- Michael Johansen $924,139.
- Robert Garagiola $917,766.48
- Frank Boston III $880,000.
- Nicholas Manis $807,000.
- Gregory Proctor Jr. $752,357.
Top 10 lobbying firms in gross billings (Nov. 1, 2014-Oct. 31, 2015)
- Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson $3,692,076
- Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, LLC $3,359,718
- Alexander & Cleaver, P.A. $3,184,191.
- Manis Canning & Associates $2,747,715
- Harris Jones & Malone, LLC $1,992,850
- Gerard E. Evans, Ltd. $1,883,900
- Venable, LLP $1,872,866
- Capitol Strategies, LLC $1,848,086
- S. Proctor & Associates, Inc. $1,307,013
- Schwartz, Metz & Wise, P.A. $1,546,563