Using Your Office to Drum Up Clients Isn’t Illegal in Annapolis Either

If the acquittal of Ulysses Currie on corruption charges proved one thing it was that the financial disclosure forms Maryland legislators file with the State Ethics Commission are meaningless.

In Maryland, taking $250,000 to do special favors for Shoppers Food Warehouse, while simultaneously serving, as chair of the Senate committee, which writes the state budget and tax laws, isn’t a crime.

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Nor is it a crime, in Maryland, to use your position as a powerful legislator to drum up clients for your political consulting business.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh is chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee, a former majority leader, and a powerful ally to Governor O’Malley. She is also a federal lobbyist for The Johns Hopkins University. McIntosh, a protégé of Senator Barbara Mikulski, is an influential legislator with connections to the levers of power in Baltimore and the state.

McIntosh also owns a political consulting and direct mail company The McIntosh Files. It appears she has leveraged her connections very well. According to data from the Maryland Campaign Finance database McIntosh’s clients include Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, members of the House of Delegates, and several candidates for and current members of the Baltimore City Council. Available data shows McIntosh has pulled in over $370,000 in revenue for her firm.

McIntosh listed ownership of the firm on her Financial Disclosure Statement to the state ethics commission. However, McIntosh did not disclose her partnership interest in another political consulting firm, the Columbia-based TruBlu Politics. McIntosh joined TruBlu Politics as a full partner in April of 2009. Although she is not listed on TruBlu Politics current website as a partner, you can find this version TruBlu Politics “About Us” webpage on the Intertubes.

Legislators are given the option to be notified when someone looks up their form, McIntosh selected yes…. Hi Maggie!

TruBlu Politics lists several Maryland Democratic legislators as their clients. It just so happens that may of these legislators happen to sit on the very legislative committees McIntosh chairs or sits, whether it is the Environmental Matters Committee or the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee. Whether through individual or various campaign slate committees, TruBue Politics has earned quite a bit of money from legislators tied to McIntosh.

Schedule H of the disclosure requires that the filer to list any business entity from they earned income during the filing period.

Either TruBlu Politics failed to make a profit, highly unlikely given it pulled in close to $1 million from Maryland clients according to the state campaign finance database, or McIntosh had an Ulysses Currie moment, or felt no need to disclose the relationship.

As the old Annapolis definition of conflict of interest goes… “if it doesn’t conflict with my interests…”

TruBlu Politics also made a mint off the slots the 2008 referendum, taking in nearly $100,000 from O’Malley’s pro-slots campaign organization For Maryland For Our Future. McIntosh—the anti-slots legislator—pulled $19,000 for her own firm from O’Malley’s pro-slots outfit.

According to this screenshot from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation online database, TruBlu Politics forfeited its status to do business in Maryland in October of 2010 for failure to file a property return in 2009.

Interestingly though, TruBlu Politics seems to have disappeared from the SDAT database. Only days after the screen grab was taken, a search of the database for TruBlu Politics no longer produces a return.

But as the Currie episode teaches us, none of this is illegal or does it matter, because self-dealing, cronyism, conflicts of interest: it’s all business as usual for the temple monkeys in Annapolis. Ethics, transparency, following the rules, that’s just for us rubes who have the pleasure of paying taxes to fund them.

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