Interagency Committee Member John Bohanon Skirting Lobbying Laws

As I wrote about yesterday, House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh amended a bill meant to modernize school construction, to remove the Board of Public Works fiscal oversight authority over school construction and hand over billions in school construction to Mike Miller and Mike Busch.

Under McIntosh’s unconstitutional plan the Interagency Committee on School Construction, the technical committee that recommends school construction allocations to the Board, would be reconstituted from its current five-members into a nine-member Interagency Commission. If enacted the bill increases Miller and Busch’s current appointees from one to two, and places the State Treasurer on the commission, giving them control over five of the nine members since the Treasurer is appointed by the legislature

This is especially troubling, as Busch’s current appointee, former delegate John Bohanan, has been skirting state ethics laws for the last several years.

State law prohibits registered lobbyists from serving on the Interagency Committee. Bohanan is not a registered lobbyist. However, as the Daily Record’s Bryan Sears reported last year, his activities as a “consultant” for Cornerstone Government Affairs raised serious question.

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As Sears reported, Bohanan engaged officials at the Department of General Services regarding a $1.7 million paint contract for McCormick Paints, and a subcontracting company owned by his wife. McCormick retained Cornerstone Government Affairs as their lobbyist.

Bohanan claimed his activities were legal but to any casual observer, they did not pass the smell test. His actions are especially troubling given that local school  systems can piggy-back on to the paint contract.

Red Maryland has obtained emails from Bohanan to interested parties regarding a $28 million capital budget item to construct a new building at the College of Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in St. Mary’s County.

In a series of emails between March 9th and March 22nd, Bohanan updates unidentified recipients about the legislature’s deletion of the $28 million appropriation. He also throws his successors in the St. Mary’s House Delegation under the bus

In a March 22 email, Bohanan provides a further update on the project as well as bill to merge the College of Southern Maryland into the University System of Maryland, where he once again criticizes the St. Mary’s House delegation for its lack of support and poor record supporting the Governor’s budgets.

The merits of the project and the support or lack of support from the St. Mary’s delegation is not the issue. The issue is John Bohanan is engaging in activity that any rational person would construe as lobbying.

How is this any different from what Bruce Bereano or Gerry Evans do for their clients?

Who is Bohanan reporting to?

Is he being paid?

What other lobbying not lobbying dancing through the raindrops activities is Bohanan doing?

These are all questions that need answers before the House of Delegates hands over billions of state taxpayer dollars to lobbyists and cronies.

If Bohanan is the ethical standard for the Mike Miller and Mike Busch, then what’s next? Appointing Tommy Bromwell or Larry Young to the IAC?With Ulysses Currie is retiring, why not put him on the IAC? He certainly has a sterling ethical record.

The fact of the matter is that stripping power for crass political purposes and giving it to a renamed Interagency Committee is going to create serious problems for Maryland’s schools. By having unofficial lobbyists like Bohanon already serving on the Interagency Committee, there is no reason to suspect that Busch and Miller intend to stack their newfangled Interagency Commission with political hacks and not people truly interested in doing the right thing.

If John Bohanon is the type of person who is going to be given carte blanche to decide school construction funds, then the Democratic corruption in education that we have seen from Kevin Kamenetz and Rushern Baker is just the tip of the iceberg.

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