Kindred campaigners

The Political Game

Funding: The Clintons and Kennedys continue to strengthen their ties, helping each other raise money.

July 18, 2000|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

THE CLINTONS and the Kennedys (or at least Maryland's branch of the family) continue to bond politically.

On Friday, Hillary Rodham Clinton will come to Annapolis to raise money for her high-profile Senate race in New York against Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio.

Leading the effort to sell the $500 tickets to the event are Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Wayne L. Rogers.

In a couple of weeks, Clinton's husband will return the favor by appearing as the featured guest at Townsend's annual Cape Cod fund-raiser put on by her mother. Townsend is running full-speed for governor in the 2002 election.

The Aug. 5 event, with ticket prices of $2,000 and $4,000, will be President Clinton's first visit to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. It will also mark the first time that Clinton has raised money for Townsend, although Hillary Clinton appeared at a Virginia event for Townsend in 1998.

Hillary Clinton's event will be at the Annapolis home of Thomas Seibert, the former ambassador to Sweden and a major Democratic Party fund-raiser. It will come one month after Lazio raised about $65,000 at a Little Italy fund-raiser organized by his congressional friend, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a 2nd District Republican.

Lobbyist trial produces many memorable gems

Lobbyist Gerard E. Evans was convicted, and Del. Tony E. Fulton was essentially acquitted.

That was the outcome of the monthlong State House corruption trial that wrapped up Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The trial cast a harsh spotlight on the inner workings of Annapolis, in particular Evans' efforts to generate fees from some of his lobbying clients.

Aside from the verdicts, the trial produced a number of memorable nuggets.

Just as Vice President Al Gore might always be associated with the phrase, "No controlling legal authority," Maryland can cherish:

"Creative lobbying techniques." James B. Davis III, a law school student who was an associate in Evans' firm in 1998, testified that's how Evans described what he was doing as he used scissors, tape and Wite-Out to alter a fax to make it appear that he had received a letter from then-Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, rather than from Fulton. The letter and the testimony about how it was handled proved to be the most important evidence against Evans.

"Mr. Braxton." The mystery man who supposedly gave Fulton the idea in the fall of 1996 for introducing liability legislation making it easier to sue paint companies.

In an exceptionally awkward moment on the witness stand, Fulton said a constituent had suggested the landmark legislation. But despite having at least two conversations with this constituent, accepting documents from him and referring him to legislative bill drafters, Fulton said he couldn't remember the man's name. The only clue to his identity came from one of the bill drafters, who said the man identified himself as Mr. Braxton.

"Three-prong strategy." Evans told the jury about advising his clients to use such a strategy to attack on many fronts. 1) Pay a lobbyist to fight in the State House. 2) Earmark at least $50,000 for campaign contributions to friendly legislators. 3) Spend another $50,000 on community projects backed by lawmakers. Each of the prongs had to do with spending big money and nothing to do, it seems, with the merits of legislation.

"Functional idiot." Richard D. Bennett, the lawyer for Fulton, used the phrase in his closing argument, arguing effectively that his client would have to be a "functional idiot" to have engaged in a scheme in which Evans collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees, while Fulton's supposed share was a measly $10,000 real estate commission.

"Whack-a-Peter-Angelos." Robert C. Bonsib, the attorney for Evans, coined the phrase to describe the business community's fear and loathing of the ubiquitous Baltimore lawyer. Bonsib even drew a mock-up of a game modeled on the boardwalk game, "Whack-a-Mole." Bonsib told the jury that, just like with those unpredictable moles, lobbyist Evans could never be sure when or where Angelos might pop into view in Annapolis, or which issue he might be pushing.

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