The return of divided government to Maryland has brought about much change in Annapolis. But one thing that has remained the same since the election of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is Gerard E. Evans’s upper hand in state lobbying.
Evans, a longtime fixture in Annapolis, was the top earner among Maryland lobbyists during the recent legislative session, according to reports filed with the state ethics commission.
He reported billing his cadre of clients nearly $2 million between November and April, higher than any other lobbyist registered in Maryland, and about $168,000 more than last year, when he was also the top earner. Bruce Bereano came in second both last year and this year, with reported billings of $1.4 million in the recently released report.
Evans got his start in Annapolis 40 years ago, working as an intern to freshman Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. More than a decade later, around the time Evans began lobbying, Miller (D-Calvert) became Senate president. He continues to hold that post and is by far the longest-serving Senate president in the country.
“I made $73 a week and at that Mike said I was overpaid,” Evans, 59, recalls with a chuckle.
This year, Evans’s biggest client was the Law Offices of Peter Angelos, which he represented on “matters affecting the legal industry and the judiciary in general.” According to recently filed reports, Angelos, a trial lawyer and owner of the Baltimore Orioles, paid $380,000 for lobbying.
Evans said he worked for Angelos during the 90-day legislative session on getting more judges into the courtroom.
His other big client, the Maryland Hospital Association, which spent $518,050, has fought against an effort to allow for-profit specialized health-care facilities in the state.
“The wonderful thing about lobbying is its constant change: new clients, new issues, new political parties,” Evans said. “Here, 90 days win or lose, you know your fate definitively.”
Evans said having a business-friendly Republican leading the state has been a “godsend” for many of his clients. But, he added, Hogan’s ascent has also forced lobbyists to modify their approach.
“He’s so different,” Evans said. “He’s not a politician. You have to retool your attributes to lobby him and the administration. It’s not politics as usual.”
Evans and Bereano, who together have more than 60 years of experience lobbying in Maryland’s capital, were both banned for a short time from doing business with then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) after each got into trouble with the law.
Evans was convicted on multiple counts of mail and wire fraud in 2000. He was accused of boosting his earnings by fabricating legislation that threatened his clients’ interests and then collecting fees to fight those nonexistent bills.
Bereano, 71, was convicted in 1994 of mail fraud.
Bereano, who has a long list of clients including Washington Gas, MedStar and Cigna, worked as legal counsel for former Senate President William S. James in 1973. He started his lobbying business in 1979.
“I’m just happy to be involved in the process,” Bereano said.
He said the biggest change since Hogan’s 2014 election has been the “new people and new personalities” in Annapolis, noting new Cabinet members and an influx of new lawmakers in the House of Delegates.
“But change is inherent in lobbying,” Bereano said. “It’s learning and developing and maintaining new relationships.”
Among companies that spent more than $50,000 on lobbying, health-care organizations were at the top of the list between November and April.
Those organizations include the Maryland Hospital Association and the Maryland State Medical Society, which spent $320,870.
Pepco Holdings paid out $254,028 during the five-month period.
Northrop Grumman, which received a $37.5 million tax credit over five years, paid $162,988 for lobbying. FanDuel and DraftKings, which pushed for a referendum on legalizing online fantasy sports, spent a combined $110,132.
The top 10 highest-earning lobbyists are:
1. Gerard Evans $1,968,400.
2. Bruce Bereano $1,389,363.71
3. Timothy Perry $1,118,359.
4. Joel Rozner $1,011,300.
5. Lisa Harris Jones $942,036.
6. Michael Johansen $924,139.
7. Robert Garagiola $917,766.48
8. Frank Boston III $880,000.
9. Nicholas Manis $807,000.
10. Gregory Proctor Jr. $752,357.