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    Candidates for Governor Answer Question on Lobbyists

    Thursday, September 3, 1998; Page M04

    QUESTION 5: Do you believe special interest lobbyists have too much influence in Annapolis? If so, please describe several steps you would take to curb their influence.

    Parris N. Glendening (D):

    Yes -- some lobbyists do have too much influence. I have been outraged, for example, at efforts by the tobacco and gambling industries to influence the political process here in Maryland. We need to control that influence, allowing all voices in a public debate to be heard.

    Throughout the legislative process, competing interests line up against each other. Taken together, these interests serve a vital role in a healthy democracy. We must be open to the views of all groups -- because "special interests" can mean our children, or local governments, or other important groups.

    We must ensure balance, guarantee equal access, and guard against improper influence. Maryland's current disclosure laws allow citizens to know who someone in Annapolis is representing. But we must do more. The gambling lobbyists spent more than $600,000 in the last legislative session. The tobacco companies are constantly elbowing around Annapolis. And the National Rifle Association spent thousands of dollars trying to have the results of the last gubernatorial race thrown out.

    On March 6 of this year, I established strict new guidelines for executive branch contracts. Any entity planning to pay any funds to any federal, state or local elected official in exchange for any services must prepare a written contract that reflects compensation provided and services expected to be received for that compensation.

    In addition, Congressman Ben Cardin was appointed to chair a Special Study Commission on the Maryland Public Ethics Law. I expect to see legislation strengthening that law after the commission has finished its work.

    Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R):

    It can't be denied that lobbyists are an essential part of the legislative process. There are generally lobbyists on both sides of issues and they present valuable information. However, they don't have to wine and dine legislators to provide that information.

    With the same people running Annapolis for the past 30 years, an old-boy network has evolved. Gerard Evans, a prominent Annapolis lobbyist, testified that lobbyists often receive business from legislators who refer clients to them. Some lobbyists are also instrumental in raising funds for legislators from their clients. The time has come to replace the cozy clique in Annapolis with thoughtful, concerned individuals who will represent the interests of Maryland citizens, not special interests or their own political interests.

    As governor, I would support legislation that bans the wining and dining that currently plagues the political process. I'd also support: legislation that requires the reporting of pre-session campaign contributions within the first two weeks of the General Assembly session; legislation that provides full disclosure of legislators' conflict of interest forms to the public; and legislation that requires those who contribute more than $100 to disclose their employers.

    Despite the progress that has been made, the best type of reform is to elect people with unquestionable integrity. Citizens need to take control of their own destiny and put honest, trustworthy people in Annapolis. It's the people's government, not the special interests'.

    People are tired of the cozy clique in Annapolis. A Sauerbrey administration will restore integrity to the State House.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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