Saturday, October 08, 2005

From the Hill to the Statehouse

from The League: Reassembled

Since Gov. Ehrlich took office, Maryland Democrats have argued that Republican Gov. Ehrlich "has brought 'Capitol Hill politics' to Annapolis." They feel that Ehrlich's "'my way or the highway' lack of respect for the opposition" is a trait he picked up in his previous gig as Congressman from the second district.

Turns out Ehrlich has brought more than his Republican buddies' politics from Capital Hill to Annapolis; he's also brought their corruption. Today's Baltimore Sun reports "the White House announced yesterday that it has withdrawn its nomination of Timothy E. Flanigan for deputy attorney general amid questions over his connections to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a fraudulent 2003 business deal with a company then owned by a high-ranking official in Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration.

According to his written testimony to the Senate, Flanigan, acting on Abramoff's recommendation, steered a $2 million lobbying contract to Grassroots in the spring of 2003 to help the company protect a tax exemption it enjoyed as an off-shore corporation."

At the time, Grassroots was owned by Ehrlich's deputy chief-of-staff Edward B. Miller. The two have worked together in politics for the past 15 years.

This corruption mirrors that of Capital Hill Republicans. In the past few weeks, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's sale of stock of his brother's company weeks before its price fell. And, in a well-publicized story, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has stepped down amid an indictment charging him with laundering illegal campaign cash.

State Democrats would do well to focus on the Miller story, but even better to connect Ehrlich to the national Republicans. This story has it all: corruption in Ehrlich's cabinet, connections with high-profile Republican lobbyists, and a guy named Ed. Maryland is a strongly Democratic state and the more voters associate Ehrlich with his party (especially with a corrupt party), the less likely they will be to vote for the incumbent in next year's gubernatorial race.

from The League: Reassembled with revisions


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