The Tobacco Institute paid $30,000 to get three bills killed in the recent session of the Maryland General Assembly. The Southland Corp. paid $17,600 to get one bill killed. Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. spent more than $91,000, much of it to wine and dine legislators. Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. spent nearly $85,0000, and the Motion Picture Association of America paid someone $15,000 just to keep an eye on things.
Those were some of the big money spenders. Collecting the money were lobbyists, men and women paid to influence the 188 legislators as they voted on nearly 3,000 bills proposed during the 1982 session.
According to reports filed with the Maryland Ethics Commission, more than 400 registered lobbyists worked in Annapolis this year. Their individual fees ranged from the $33,400 paid by Citicorp Financial Inc. to lawyer-lobbyist Franklin Goldstein to zero. The lobbyist who did the most business was James J. Doyle Jr., who has worked the legislature for 20 years. Twenty clients paid Doyle slightly less than $190,000 to boost or boot bills. Doyle's top fee--$28,000--came from Potomac Electric Power Co. In all, Pepco spent more than $70,000 in fees and expenses.
When the Maryland Ethics Commission finishes its audit of this year's activity sheets, it expects to find the fees have gone even higher than the $2,087,403 recorded last year.
Are those fees out of line?
"I guess not," said Doyle. "The people who I am being paid by are businessmen who aren't going to go around making charitable contributions. If they pay that kind of fee they think my work is worth that kind of money."
The No. 2 lobbyist in terms of fees was Bruce C. Bereano, a lawyer who worked to get Marvin Mandel released from prison last year, and ex-aide to Senate President (now congressman) Steny H. Hoyer. Bereano, in his third year as a lobbyist, was paid $112,215 by 24 clients. His largest fee was the $30,000 from the Tobacco Institute.
To earn that, Bereano worked to kill three bills that would have limited smoking in public places. One of them got as far as the House floor before Bereano managed to get some votes switched to kill it.
"It was nice and neat," Bereano said. "Ten thousand dollars a bill."
For the most part, lobbyists are paid to kill legislation. The Southland Corp. (7-Eleven) paid Washington lawyer D. Michael Murray $17,600 to kill a bill that would have required the corporation to give its 7-Eleven operators 30 days notice if they did not intend to renew a franchise license. Murray worked for his money, though. The bill did not die until the final hours of the session.
Lobbyists like to say they are paid to help legislators by providing information about how legislation would affect the public, and Sen. Howard A. Denis (R-Montgomery) says, "The best lobbyists are the ones whose information is always accurate. Anyone who gives you wrong information loses your respect quickly."
But lobbyists do far more than dispense information. They are one of major sources of parties during the sessions and if a legislator needs lunch or dinner (and can't find a reporter with an expense account) he can usually find a lobbyist looking for an ear.
The busiest lobbyists are likely to be lawyers who take on a wide range of clients, as long as they money is right. That group includes Doyle, Bereano, Goldstein ($102,000), John Devin Doolan ($68,925), Thomas M. Downs ($61,000), Ira C. Cooke ($58,140), Richard Rombro ($56,500) and Joseph A. Schwartz ($55,250).
There are also specialists such as William K. Weaver, who is executive director of the Maryland Bankers Association. Weaver was paid $27,647 for the work he did during the session. In all, the association spent $78,812 in its lobbying effort this year, including $36,767 in legal fees.
The big spending by the bankers appeared to pay off: Despite election-year pressures, the legislature pushed through several controversial probanking bills. During the debate on the bill that raised the interest rate ceiling on most consumer loans from 18 to 24 percent, one delegate, arguing against the bill, looked up in the gallery at Weaver and said, "Whatever that man is getting paid, he's worth it. Because this bill is going to pass and it's only because my fellow delegates are letting him tell them what to do."
Weaver was not the only specialist in Annapolis. George W. Della III worked full time for BG&E and four members of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce lobbied at one time or another. Their fees totaled a little more than $30,000.
Former officeholders, elected and otherwise, also made money by lobbying. John Hanson Briscoe, the former speaker of the House, collected $35,127 from seven clients. Briscoe also earned the respect of other lobbyists because, unlike some other legislators-turned-lobbyists, he never used his privilege as a former member to go into the House lounge to talk to delegates.
Louise T. Keelty, formerly Gov. Harry Hughes' patronage secretary, returned to Annapolis to lobby for two horsemen's associations, for which she was paid $8,948.
No company was more omnipresent than Ma Bell. "Understand," a C&P spokesman said yesterday, "we are concerned with every piece of legislation that is introduced. Anything could affect business."
There were 35 bills of special interest to the company, he said, including a moratorium on rate increases and an elected Public Service Commission. C&P's five lobbyists spent a good deal of money convincing legislators that those bills should be killed.
During one six-week period, the company threw a weekly party at the Annapolis Yacht Club, inviting different delegations each week. Some of the 188 legislators must have gone back because, according to the report, a total of 214 legislators were fed, at a cost of $7,498 during that period.
Utilities were the biggest spenders, but not the only ones. Johns Hopkins University paid its lobbyist, Ellery B. Woodworth, $10,000 and with expenses spent $21,123 so that Woodworth could lobby on behalf of higher education.
Crown Central Petroleum, whose board chairman, Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., is cochairman of Gov. Hughes' campaign finance committee, paid Doolan $29,900. Doolan worked hard. Early in the session, Del. Stewart Bainum Jr. (D-Montgomery) introduced a bill that would have taxed oil companies' windfall profits. After Rosenberg met with Bainum, Doolan sat down with the delegate and together the two came up with an amendment that exempted Crown from the bill. The amended version passed the House but died in a Senate committee.
The Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association of America paid George N. Manis $26,300, but that wasn't the easiest money Manis made. The Motion Picture Association of America paid him $15,000 even though there was no legislation pending that directly affected it.
"They paid me to keep an eye on things and stay abreast of what might happen that could affect them," Manis said. "My firm has been associated with them for many years."
Finally, there was former delegate E. Homer White Jr. Even though he was paid $8,500 to lobby for three companies, his activity sheet listed his occupation as lobbyist/retired.