A group led by some allies of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has been raising money and trying to mobilize public support for legislation to increase transportation funding.
The group, known as Broad Stripes/Bright Stars, has helped pay for ads on the Web sites of both The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun. And it has coordinated phone calls to lawmakers weighing a bill sponsored by O’Malley to boost funding for road and mass transit projects, according to organizers.
“We’re mobilizing primarily Democratic voters across this state,” said Steve Kearney, a former O’Malley communications director involved in the effort, who now heads a private public affairs firm. “Legislators need to know there’s support out there.”
O’Malley’s plan, which was tweaked this week by a House committee, relies heavily on a new sales tax on gasoline. It is projected to yield $3.4 billion over five years, including new borrowing.
The full House is scheduled to begin debate on the bill late Wednesday afternoon. The Senate is expected to consider the bill next week if it passes the House.
Martin G. Knott Jr., the chairman of Broad Stripes/Bright Stars, was a member of O’Malley’s transition team following his 2006 election. Since then, Knott, a businessman, has been appointed by O’Malley to a couple of state panels. Most recently, he was named chairman of the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board.
Knott said that Broad Stripes/Bright Stars was launched last year with the aim of helping support several issues that will move the state forward. Transportation is the first issue the group has tackled. Knott said members of the group are acting as private citizens.
A recent fundraising solicitation sent out by the group, obtained by The Post, says that “all monies will be directed into voter engagement about the once-in-a-generation opportunity to get Maryland moving again.”
Interested parties were directed to send checks to Martin Lauer Associates, the fundraising firm long used by O’Malley.