There have been images that have outlined the wealth of congressmembers, concluding that they are (mostly) in the top 10% of the income scale. There are not adequate resources do this, unfortunately, for the 188 members of the General Assembly, so it is better to make a post showing which legislators serve which moneyed interests.
Here are the members of Maryland’s House of Delegates, using data from Influence Explorer, which groups delegates who have the said companies, either through individual or PAC contributions, that are their top nine campaign contributors:
This chart, with all its wonderful colors and whistles shows there are three major lobbying forces affecting the House of Delegates: the National Association of Realtors which the lobbying group for the real estate industry, the trade unions, and Constellation Energy, now owned by Mideast power company, Exelon. The Health Policy Leadership Alliance, part of the Maryland Hospital Association which represents the state’s hospitals, that has an official purpose to ultimately “foster improvements in health care for the citizens of Maryland,” but what it really should say is that it represents the interests of the state’s hospitals, whatever that may be. There are thirty delegates who serve an “other” interest, which means that either they are self-funded, or the interest they serve is not one that corresponds with the categories on this chart (small business, business lobbying groups, etc…)
In a simplified version of the above chart, I broke the numbers down even further, showing the influence of certain groups on the legislature itself:
This breakdown reveals a number of aspects: the powerful influence of the National Association of Realtors, the trade unions, and multinational corporations, with 62-63% of them being energy corporations. Additionally, it reveals the power of Constellation Energy and the Health Policy Leadership Alliance as well.
Beyond these findings, which should surprise no one, are a number of industry and pressure groups I did not include. One of these is the Restaurant Association of Maryland originally opposed the wage increase in 2013 because it would make restaurants pay more to their workers (which would only get paid 70% of the minimum wage). But then, in 2014, they praised the minimum wage bill, because it didn’t really help out tipped workers since “he tipped workers’ pay was not tied to…the hike in minimum wage.” Thompson, the spokesperson for the Association said after the bill passed that “we,” referring to the association and possibly the industry, “were very happy that legislators understood our business and the tipped wage issue.” I still remember a Maryland Delegate at a conference I’ll leave unnamed which I went to, warning of this and saying it would benefit the restaurant industry, telling them to vote against the bill. The legislature seemed to not care, and even failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Delegate Heather Mizeur who supported the rise in the wages of tipped workers by 70%, who I’m not fond of, voted for this bill.
Another group I did not mention is the Maryland Bankers Association, which is a sub-group of the Independent Community Bankers of America. Individuals from the Association give mostly to Democrats and somewhat to Republicans. The Association on its website declares that it “is strong, steadfast and the leading advocate in creating sustainable value and success for our members, their employees and Maryland banking.” In the past, the Association has argued against a state-run bank, like the successful one in North Dakota, saying it would have “an unfair advantage” over commercial banks “because it would not pay taxes.” This is no surprise since the association represents, in the words of the staff of the Washington Business Journal, “the interests of Maryland’s banking industry before federal and state lawmakers and regulators and promote[s] the industry with the public.” On the eve of the FDIC taking over and bailing out two Maryland banks in 2012, the association said the state’s banking industry was “strong.” That same year, they also seemed to grumble about new consumer finance regulations. The Association’s former CEO, Kathleen Murphy, has also, not surprisingly, been hostile toward credit unions in the state (also see here). This position is consistent with their opposition to a bill that would allow small banks and big banks to compete against one another. Murphy was even concerned with how banks could be held liable for lead paint in Baltimore City. There are many more positions that the Association takes, but it is clear that they support the interests of the state’s banking community.
There is one more group. That is the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association which has given, mostly through individual contributions, almost a million dollars to candidates who are almost exclusively Democrats, including a $26,000 PAC contribution to the Democratic Party. The Association is now called the Maryland Association for Justice (MAJ), and it is officially dedicated to “improving the civil justice system through legislative advocacy and the professional development of attorneys who represent the injured,” which it does through a list of business-friendly sponsors and publications like The Daily Record. MAJ, as you may have guessed, has a PAC, which it uses to “track and monitor legislation bills of interest to the trial bar” and fights to “hold wrongdoers accountable for their negligent actions.” Now, what does this mean? In a December 2013 article in the Baltimore Sun, they noted that Attorney Daniel Clements, who chairs MAJ’s PAC which is “one of the state;s largest political donors,” filed a suit to “prevent Democrat Anthony G. Brown’s running mate from accepting campaign donations during the legislative session.” The article goes on to note that Clemons has given thousands of dollars in contributions to President Barack Obama, Doug Gansler for Governor, Ken Ulman who is Anthony Brown’s running mate, and others. The Association is only mentioned in four other articles in the Baltimore Sun and in none of them is its political activity focused on. Even without any further information, it is clear that MAJ is a powerful force on the state level.
There is one industry I did not include in my analysis and that is the newly formed casino industry in Maryland. In an article published in the Washington Post yesterday, John Wagner wrote about how even though it is illegal for casino owners “to make donations to political candidates,” owners such as William M. Rickman Jr. of an Ocean Downs casino through companies he owned instead of the casino itself. Rickman’s thousands upon thousands of dollars in contributions, which are of possible legality, have gone mainly to Anthony Brown, Mike Miller, and Ken Ulman, along with “several lawmakers who sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over gambling and racing legislation.” Rickman is not the only one to go around the ban on political contributions by casino owners, and that is why some have said that this shows the porous nature of the law.
While this article only covers the Maryland House of Delegates, next the Maryland Senate will be analyzed in a similar way, as well the big funders of the state’s political parties. Hopefully, this article shines a light on who the delegates really represent (many represent certain business interests) and make one question the House of Delegates itself, realizing that the House does not, seem to represent the interests of the populace.