Cognitive Dissonance

Remember in November of last year when Ulysses Currie said, “Lobbyists almost have no influence on the vote.”

This takes on a whole new meaning now that we know that Shoppers Food Warehouse and its parent company Supervalu paid Currie $207,000 in consulting fees from 2003-2007:

Currie has intervened on Shoppers behalf several times in recent years when the grocery chain had business dealings with the state, according to documents
released by various agencies.

The senator arranged meetings and contacted city and state officials at critical junctures when Shoppers was seeking public financing and other concessions as part of the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore. He also interceded on the company’s behalf on routine transportation projects such as traffic signals and road improvements near Shoppers stores.

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State officials who met with Currie to discuss Shoppers business said they were not aware of his employment.

The senator also voted on legislation favorable to the company. In 2005 he voted in favor of a bill authorizing the transfer of a liquor license from one supermarket to another. According to the FBI affidavit, he was in frequent contact with Shoppers representatives and the county’s chief liquor inspector at a time when local approval of the transfer had drawn fierce opposition.

Using electronic phone records, FBI agents have also identified hundreds of phone calls Currie made to company officials, often when the company was seeking to influence public officials on legislation and business transactions.

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