Breaking up that old gang of theirs


September 28, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

It is like a change of administrations, lobbyist style.

The law firm of Rifkin, Evans, Silver and Rozner, which tapped its considerable connections to the Schaefer administration and the legislature to become one of the powerhouse lobbying firms in Annapolis the last five years, is breaking up.

In its place, two of the departing partners, Gerard E. Evans and Joel D. Rozner, are forming a new five-member firm that will feature insider expertise in the workings of state government, close connections to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. -- and entree to the administration of Democrat Parris N. Glendening, assuming of course that he defeats Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey Nov. 8.

Managing partner of the new firm will be Charles A. Dukes Jr., chairman of a commercial real estate brokerage firm in Laurel. Mr. Dukes, a Republican, has been a practicing tax attorney, chief executive officer of John Hanson Savings Bank, past president of the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Other partners will include former state Securities Commissioner Ellyn L. Brown and John R. Stierhoff, legislative counsel to Senator Miller since 1986. Mr. Stierhoff will move through the revolving door in December to begin lobbying many of the same lawmakers he has worked with for years. Some of the legislators he will lobby received thousands of dollars in campaign assistance from Senator Miller, money doled out at least in part based on Mr. Stierhoff's advice. Mr. Stierhoff also said he intends to represent clients in regulatory matters before state agencies.

Mr. Evans, whose lobbying specialty is health care issues, also is a longtime friend and political ally of Senator Miller's and serves as chairman of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee. Mr. Rozner was chief of staff to Mr. Glendening, the Prince George's County executive, between 1988 and 1991. He presently serves as the people's zoning counsel for Prince George's County. When Mr. Stierhoff formally joins the firm Dec. 1, it will be called Dukes Evans Rozner Brown & Stierhoff.

In 1989, Alan Rifkin -- who for years was a top aide to then-Senate President Melvin A. Steinberg before becoming Gov. William Donald Schaefer's chief legislative lobbyist in 1987 -- pioneered a new era of lobbying in Annapolis. He formed Rifkin, Evans, Silver & Lamone, a firm that was among the first in Maryland to take a "team approach" to lobbying.

Over the years, the firm's clients have included Fortune 500 companies, the state medical society, a variety of health care companies, Maryland racetracks and, most recently, the Redskins.

Ultimately, Mr. Rifkin said yesterday, the firm's success became an obstacle to expansion because of potential conflicts of interest between the clients of various partners. Yesterday, he, too, announced plans to reconfigure his law firm, which will be known as Rifkin & Silver.

In addition to former Baltimore Circuit Judge Edgar P. Silver, Mr. Rifkin said, associate Michael Johansen will become a partner and Thomas T. Koch, retiring treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party, will join as a lobbyist.

Although Mr. Rifkin backed Mr. Steinberg for the Democratic nomination for governor, in August he seemed to desert his old friend by inviting his clients to a fund-raising party in his Baltimore office for Mr. Glendening.

Comparing his revamped firm yesterday with the new Dukes Evans firm in Greenbelt, Mr. Rifkin asserted: "We're equally close in many respects with Mr. Glendening."

A Sauerbrey student

Over the years, the names and faces of the students to whom she taught biology tend to blur for Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Republican candidate for governor.

But she'll never forget the name of one student: David Townsend.

David went on to become a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis. He also married Kathleen Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy.

And now, of course, Mrs. Sauerbrey is running against Mrs. Townsend, who is the lieutenant governor candidate on the Democratic ticket with Parris N. Glendening.

Mrs. Sauerbrey said she remembered little about him, but added: "He passed."

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