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Md. Lobbyist Cashes in With Stadium Deal

By Terry M. Neal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 7, 1995; Page C01

Only moments after Monday's announcement that the Washington Redskins would be moving to Landover, lobbyist Gerard E. Evans was in a hotel suite, popping champagne corks with some of the state's most powerful politicians and one of the region's wealthiest businessmen, Jack Kent Cooke.

Evans had good reason to celebrate with Cooke, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry and others. For one thing, Evans had just helped his client, Cooke, who owns the Redskins, move closer to his dream of building a football stadium. For another, Cooke had helped Evans become the highest-paid Maryland lobbyist by paying him nearly a quarter-million dollars in the last few months -- one of the largest fees ever paid to a state lobbyist.

Although he has dozens of clients and long has been a player in local and state Democratic Party circles, Evans, 39, raised his political profile statewide this year with his representation of Cooke and Nevada-based Harvey's Resorts and Casinos, one of several companies pushing for legalization of big-time gaming in Maryland.

Evans billed $1,051,288 this year. His total is higher than that of any other lobbyist registered in Maryland, said John E. O'Donnell, executive director of the state Ethics Commission. Nov. 30 was the deadline for the state's 1,000 or so registered lobbyists to file semiannual public financial disclosure forms with the commission.

Although commission officials still are poring over mounds of documents to verify the accuracy of the financial disclosure information provided by the lobbyists, O'Donnell said yesterday that one thing is clear: "No question, {Evans} is number one."

He said that Evans "probably broke the all-time record" for annual compensation of about $1,035,000, set by Bruce C. Bereano in the early 1990s. Until last year, when he was convicted of mail fraud, Bereano was Annapolis's perennial king rainmaker.

For the last six months alone, Evans has had gross billings of $603,349, according to state documents he made available to The Washington Post yesterday.

Evans has displaced Bereano and Alan M. Rifkin as the most highly compensated lobbyist in Annapolis. Rifkin and Evans were partners in Annapolis's most successful firm until they split a year ago. Rifkin billed about $814,000 for the year, including $332,000 for the last six months.

O'Donnell said it was highly unusual for a lobbyist to make more money in the latter half of the year as Evans did. Maryland lobbyists generally make most of their money in the first half of the year, which includes the legislative session.

"He had the highest off-session total {compensation} I've ever seen," O'Donnell said.

In the last six months, Evans was paid $220,417 by Pro Football Inc., a Cooke company that runs the Redskins. That is among the largest fees ever paid to a Maryland lobbyist from one source over six months, O'Donnell said. Evans got his next-biggest chunk of money, $90,986, lobbying for Harvey's.

Evans, a former chairman of the Democratic Party in Prince George's, led a team of lobbyists in negotiating the stadium deal with Democrats Curry and Glendening, who preceded Curry as Prince George's county executive. The team was responsible for building political support across the state and for promoting Cooke's stadium plan in the media and to the public.

Evans's partners include: Charles A. Dukes Jr., a former Prince George's Chamber of Commerce president; Joel D. Rozner, who served as chief of staff to Glendening when he was county executive; and John R. Stierhoff, former counsel to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's). In addition, former state delegates Timothy Maloney and Michael Arrington worked on Evans's team.

"Gerry's worthy of everything he gets," Cooke said recently. "I've had a great deal of experience with lobbyists all over the country, and I'll match Gerry with the best I've ever worked with."

For about the last year, Evans has been trying to convince the legislature, the governor and a nine-member task force that big-time gambling would be good for the state. So far, gaming has met serious resistance from state leaders, including Glendening.

Evans worked in Annapolis as a legislative staff member for 10 years before he became a lobbyist in 1986. He lives in Upper Marlboro with his wife, Kathleen, and their five children. He has raised tens of thousands of dollars for political campaigns, particularly those of Miller, who is the godfather of Evans's infant twin girls.

"A lot of people in Gerry's line of work pretend to know everybody," said Gary Selesner, senior vice president of Harvey's. "But Gerry does know everybody."

But Evans is not without his critics, some of whom say he's become too much like Bereano -- considered by many to have been a tireless self-promoter.

Evans denies that he's sought attention, pointing out that Harvey's and the Redskins have hired him as a spokesman as well as lobbyist.

"There's nothing I can do," Evans said. "I don't create the news."

But some say Evans does his best to manipulate it. He angered residents opposed to Cooke's plan by referring to them as "anti-everything" activists who would have nothing to do if they weren't opposing something.

Stan Fetter, president of the Prince George's Civic Federation, which opposed the Landover stadium, said: "The problem is that in this state, a small number of people like Gerry can make a lot of things happen before anybody else knows what's going on. He tries to make you believe everything he says, and if you don't then you're a communist."

© Copyright 1995 The Washington Post Company

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