Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up to a beautiful day full of hope only to get a piece of information that leaves you talking to yourself and shaking your head the rest of the day?
I had a day like that yesterday when I received a text message early in the morning that the County Commissioners of St. Mary's were considering hiring a lobbyist to handhold their agenda in Annapolis.
This was odd because, for the upcoming session, the County Commissioners have requested the lightest legislative agenda since I was elected. There is not a single proposal that is even the slightest bit controversial, and their agenda will easily be passed into law.
It struck me as even stranger that I had not been notified about this proposal.
After a few phone calls, I was told that Delegate Todd Morgan and Senator Bailey were in full support of this hiring. It's worth noting Delegate Crosby and myself are both opposed to this proposal. Later on Tuesday, during the regularly scheduled commissioner's meeting, in a close 3-2 vote, the County Commissioners of St. Mary's decided to fund this proposal.
I strongly oppose this decision. I believe this allocation of taxpayers' money is unnecessary, wasteful, and reeks of cronyism.
This does leave me wondering why? Throughout the 386-year history of St. Mary's County, there has never been a need for a professional lobbyist until now.
During my time as St. Mary's Delegation Chair, our pass/fail record was so successful there was not a single bill that failed to become law that the current Chair (Delegate Todd Morgan) wants to resubmit as legislation. It is hard to say the past system was not successful when no one can seem to give me an example of it failing. Yet, our County is now on the hook for paying a lobbyist without a clear list of goals or what he is supposedly to accomplish.
On a side note, now that St. Mary's County Commissioners have decided to engage in the practice of professional lobbying, I will also explore the possibility of drafting legislation prohibiting all elected officials, including State Senator and Delegates like myself, from accepting donations from any lobbyist employed by our county government.
The perverse incentive structure of professional lobbying, where elected officials receive campaign donations and kickbacks only to have the ability to reward with taxpayer consulting contracts, should be deterred. I would hope the Delegation agrees with that.
I want to publically thank Commissioners Mike Hewitt and Mike Alderson for voting NO to this contract.