Sunday, June 22, 2008

Did O'Malley appoint an unregistered lobbyist to the Board of Education?

Governor O'Malley appointed Tricia Johnson and Teresa Milio Birge to five-year stints on the Board of Education this past Tuesday, pending the approval of the voters in the ridiculously asinine process that the General Assembly set up for us. More details on their appointments in general here.

But did O'Malley appoint an unregistered lobbyist in Birge to the Board? Birge is listed by the Maryland Association of Senior Centers as their lobbyist. In her resume, Birge notes that for a "private client" she:
Manages government relations program for a state association; track and review legislation; draft amendments and testimony; draft oral and written testimony; testify before legislative committees on legislative and budget matters; facilitate meetings of members with legislators; conduct training for association members.
All of which sounds like the activities of a lobbyist. Except Birge is not registered as a lobbyist according to the Maryland State Ethics Commission, nor is the Maryland Association of Senior Centers listed as employing a lobbyist. And the summary of lobbying law seems to indicate that if Birge received more than $2,500 in personal compensation or if the MASC paid a lobbyist more than $2,500 in lobbying expenses, both should have had to register.

The evidence seems to point to an unregistered Democratic lobbyist being appointed to the Board of Education. I'm not exactly sure how flouting ethics laws makes Anne Arundel County's new appointment process a success, though is does give us the opportunity to right this wrong at the ballot box in November.

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Blogger Teresa said...

This is easy enough to clear up. As Mr. Griffiths accurately pointed out, Maryland’s Lobbyist Ethics law requires all lobbyists receiving more than $2500 from any one client, or $5000 from all clients, to register as a lobbyist. My only client has been the Maryland Association of Senior Centers, with which I had a $1500 contract for the first 2 years of our relationship. The third year, I have been paid hourly and my hours have not even reached the $1500 mark. This was essentially a way for a stay at home mom who had previously worked for ten years as nonpartisan staff in Annapolis, for the legislature, the executive branch (under governors of two different parties) and the MD Municipal League to maintain some sort of professional involvement and adult contact. I disclosed all of this information to the Governor's office when I submitted my information, as I would hate for anyone to think that I was attempting to circumvent the law. I am now working as an accountant part time, preparing to sit for the CPA exam. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue my career as a public servant in this more personal rather than professional way, and I look forward to bringing my policy and financial background to my work as a new member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Thank you. Teresa Milio Birge

1:47 PM  

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