JULY 05, 2006
Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich’s personal attorney and good friend may have violated state lobbying laws and a government watchdog group is asking the state’s ethics commission to launch an investigation.
It turns out that the governor’s lawyer, David Hamilton, has not registered with the Maryland Ethics Commission as a lobbyist even though he has engaged in lobbying activities while representing clients before government officials.
Though Hamilton has said in the past that he is careful not to cross the line that separates lobbying from legally representing clients, his contacts with government officials appear to in fact cross the line into lobbying. Another interesting note is that Hamilton raised money for Ehrlich’s reelection campaign, which would be prohibited by state law if he were a registered lobbyist.
This isn’t the first time that Maryland’s Republican governor is associated with controversy. Ehrlich declared war on a local newspaper after being criticized in an article for holding a fund-raising event at a golf club that didn’t admit blacks. The governor banned all Maryland government employees from speaking with the paper’s reporters.
Earlier this year the governor was investigated by a special legislative committee for his hiring practices after firing a top aide who had been blamed for identifying career state employees to be fired and replaced with Ehrlich allies. One of those fired, a mid-level state engineer named Vincent Gardina, sued the governor and the state settled the lawsuit for $100,000.
Fired Up Maryland wrote that testimony in the committee hearings reviewing the personnel policies of the Ehrlich administration made it abundantly clear that the governor doesn’t tell the truth. Ehrlich repeatedly said that no one was fired from his administration for political reasons yet witness after witness testified that career state employees were fired precisely because they held political views that differed from Ehrlich’s.
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