Gerard E. Evans, who was indicted yesterday, is the top-grossing lobbyist in Annapolis and spent a long time working his way up there.
Beginning as a low-level Democratic operative, he toiled as an intern in the state Senate while still in college, worked for Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist in his mid-twenties and was a staff member for Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's).
He developed his contacts along the way, not least of them with Miller, who went on to become the powerful senate president and godfather to Evans's twin daughters. By the late 1980s, Evans was chairman of the Prince George's County Democratic Committee and was hobnobbing with the likes of Bethesda developer Nathan Landow, a prominent national Democratic fund-raiser.
In the mid-1990s, Evans became the number one lobbyist in Annapolis in terms of the fees he billed--more than $1 million annually. He ascended to the top spot in part because the then top-grossing lobbyist, Bruce C. Bereano, was indicted and later convicted of federal mail fraud charges.
This spring, Evans learned that he, too, had come under the scrutiny of federal authorities.
"The best advice I'd give somebody who wants to be a lobbyist is to be number three or four," said former House Majority Leader D. Bruce Poole. "If you want to be number one, my advice is get a good lawyer because you're going to be a target for a lot of different people. And the lifestyle that accompanies it brings trouble."
Evans's clients have included pharmaceutical giants, the Redskins football team and farming interests concerned about legislation to clean the Chesapeake Bay.
"Jerry's a master of bringing people together and playing let's make a deal," said Frostburg Mayor John Bambacus, who was Evans's political science professor in college. "He knows all the major players in Maryland politics."
Evans has had his brushes with controversy before. The first came during a stint as a 25-year-old aide to Gilchrist, when he accepted a $2,000 loan from a liquor firm executive whose nephew Evans had recommended for a job with the Montgomery Department of Liquor Control. He resigned and repaid the loan after the matter came to light.
Six years ago, Republicans complained to the State Ethics Commission that Evans's job as Prince George's Democratic chairman violated campaign finance laws because as a lobbyist he was barred from soliciting money for legislative candidates. The commission rejected the complaint, saying the county party's fund-raising hadn't assisted legislative candidates but warned Evans that it might be difficult for him to remain chairman if he did engage in such fund-raising. Evans later stepped down as party chairman and now lives in Davidsonville in Anne Arundel County.