Is KO Public Affairs a Media Outlet or is Center Maryland a Lobbying Shop?
If you needed any more proof that the just concluded special session of the Maryland General Assembly was by and for the gambling special interests check out this photo tweeted from the Senate floor by Patch.com reporter Bryan Sears.
Why is an employee of Kearney O’Doherty Public Affairs, which represents pro-National Harbor casino and labor interests, on the floor posing as media from Center Maryland? Is KO Public Affairs now a credentialed media outlet, or is Center Maryland a lobbying shop?
Steve Kearney Governor O’Malley’s former communications chief, and Damian O’Doherty, a top aide to former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith founded KO Public Affairs. O’Doherty’s brother Ryan, better known by his nom de cyber MD4Bush, is a top aide to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Center Maryland, which bills itself as the “news you need, straight down the middle,” is a creation of KO Public Affairs. Another Center Maryland founder, former Baltimore Sun editor Howard Libit, is listed as the treasurer for the pro National Harbor political action committee Maryland Workers for National Harbor.
KO Public Affairs was behind the astroturf campaign that brought speed cameras to Baltimore County, represented PEPCO on behalf of the utilities proposed electric transmission line, and is a consultant for the developers of O’Malley’s State Center boondoggle.
Despite the site’s paen to centrism, Center Maryland’s founders are stridently partisan when it comes to political donations. According to state campaign finance data KO Public Affairs has made over $25,000 in political contributions—all to Democrats—including $10,000 to the Maryland Democratic Party and $4,000 to Rawlings-Blake. Fellow Center Maryland founder, and National Harbor advocate, Martin Knott, has given over $50,000 nearly all to Democrats. Knott an O’Malley appointee is the newly elected chair of the Maryland Economic Development Corporation.
During the 2010 elections Kearney, O’Doherty, and Knott hosted high dollar fundraisers for O’Malley and Frank Kratovil.