“In 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland proposed a budget to the General Assembly. Many ideas I found disconcerting…[this includes] removing $475 million of funds toward Medicaid, the retirement system for Maryland State employees, higher education and local governments does not help the common man. As the Associated Press has stated, 150 million people are at or below poverty in the United States. That’s about half the country. So, these measures do not help those in dire straits, it hurts them. On the other hand $7 billion is being devoted to “bring health care coverage to more than 900,000 low-income, disabled, ill children and adults.” Even with this amount of money, it is not enough as many are impovereished. The same goes for “prescription drug assistance to Maryland seniors” and “other health care provisions” seem underfunded by a wide margin. The money for police assistance is paltry in number, not enough to help those in need. The most enraging part of the budget is the “$20.3 million in local law enforcement grants that target domestic violence, substance abuse, and gun trafficking.” The war on drugs is a war on drug users, in every state in the United States. As a result, these funds are not needed and neither is a heavy-handed approach to crime. As I delved more into the budget, I more infuriated. There was “$446 million cut from state agencies, $94 million cut from education aid funds, $132 million cut from state retirement and health benefits and a 3.4 percent cut in funding for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation.” First off, the cuts in state agencies translates to a loss of jobs. According to many estimates the unemployment rate is 25%. The state is just adding more people to the lines of unemployed in this action. A cut in education funds will not benefit the incoming children. It will also damage education systems like Baltimore County Public Schools, rated one of the best in the county. Those teaching in the schools and other state jobs suffer another setback as their retirement and health benefits are cut. With the horrible economic situation, this cannot be good for those in a precarious situation. The governor disses them again. The cut in the financial regulation division is on of the worst. At a time when corporations need to be held accountable, this division is being cut to balance a budget? That’s preposterous. In the Governor’s budget there is a number of insulting sections. The 25% increase “for the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund to help stimulate business growth and economic development,” the “$10 million in sustainable communities tax credits to promote urban redevelopment and create job[s],” “$8.2 million for major tourist and cultural attractions,” “$250 million for public school construction” and 25.3% in money supporting unemployment insurance. Economic development and business growth probably won’t benefit the people. With cuts in the financial regulation division and elsewhere, its like O’Malley is just slapping them in the face. The money to promote urban redevelopment doesn’t help as those without a home will have less places to stay in and their surroundings are changed. With this new development, the developers will benefit, the jobs will not be high-paying (what do you think a construction worker will get?). The money for attractions is enraging because as the people are hurting, money is being spent on something that doesn’t really improve the people’s well-being. The money for school construction is the same. If education aid and money for higher education is removed, why would one think that construction will make it better? It won’t. Finally, the money for unemployment insurance seems generous, but I believe its only there because the number losing their jobs will increase in Maryland as a result of the cuts…Onto some positives…$12.4 million is dedicated toward [sic] for stem cell research, $8 million for biotechnology tax credits, $3.8 million for the Maryland Biotechnology Center and $5.8 million for the the One Maryland Broadband Network…On a final note, I believe the Governor is on the side of the priv[i]ledged, not the common man.”
Using other information I now wish to revisit this criticism. Using the Follow the Money Database, I found out that O’Malley’s top twenty contributors in the 2010 election were the following:
O’Malley Brown Committee Slate, Maryland Reporter notes that “O’Malley-Brown created a slate committee for themselves, and transferred $6.5 million from their individual campaign accounts to the slate committee. The slate committee spent almost all its money on paid media. When media spending from all their campaign accounts is added up, O’Malley-Brown spent nearly twice as much as Ehrlich: $8.2 million compared to $4.3 million. This helps explain why O’Malley campaign ads were running on TV and radio with no responding ads from the Ehrlich campaign.”
Martin O’Malley (contributions to himself)
Covanta Projects which is owned by…
However, just looking at this list doesn’t really look deeply at Governor O’Malley’s contributors since the 2010 election. Using the campaign database as I’ve noted in previous posts, I looked at the campaign contributors to his committee called “Friends of Martin O’Malley.” From this, I found that large banks, big telecom and others* stuffed his pockets with $51,750 collectively in 2007. Only the previous year, Comcast PAC, Maryland Asphalt PAC, and Maryland PEPCO PAC had transferred $10,000 to his campaign coffers. In 2008, an election year, a big pharmaceutical lobby group, pharmaceutical companies, big telecoms, big banks and other interests gave him a 10,000.** In 2009, the banking, insurance, beverage, defense, telecom and energy interests*** collectively gave O’Malley $19,750. The next year, corporate interests stretching across industries**** came together and over the course of the campaign collectively gave $61, 000. If it could get any worse in terms of who contributed to him, it did in 2011. This year, health insurance, realtor and other corporate interests gave him $5000.***** One must remember that even back in 2005, he had received 3000 from banking and telcom interests (Verizon Communications PAC and Provident Bank State PAC). You get the picture. I don’t wish to go any further as I am getting very tired as I write this.
This contributions make the emails sent by O’Malley to “play ball” with Perdue not a shocker. EE News writes that “In March 2010, environmental groups working with the University of Maryland law school filed a lawsuit with a long-sought, potentially landmark objective: to hold Perdue Farms responsible for water pollution to the Chesapeake Bay from one of its 515 contract chicken growers on the Delmarva Peninsula. Eight days later, they got what they regarded as a slap in the face from someone they considered a reliable ally: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley…O’Malley extolled Perdue Farms as “one of the great corporate citizens of our state,” praising the company for, among other things, its “innovation in environmental stewardship.”…In late July 2010, the group Environment Maryland gathered 55 signatures from Eastern Shore chicken growers on a petition delivered to O’Malley. It urged him to hold big poultry companies such as Perdue Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. responsible for the massive amount of pollution-rich chicken litter produced by their contract growers. Numerous media accounts featured O’Malley’s press secretary praising the effort…Industry officials bristled. Late the next day, a Friday, Herbert Frerichs Jr., general counsel for the Perdue family companies and a longtime friend and former University of Maryland law school classmate of O’Malley’s, tapped out this brusque email to the governor…Hours later, O’Malley replied, blaming the episode on the “pressure” resulting from U.S. EPA’s then-new Chesapeake Bay cleanup standards, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)….the environmental group Food & Water Watch published 70 pages of emails between O’Malley and Frerichs…[and they] decried what it called O’Malley’s unduly “cozy” relationship with the attorney for the Salisbury, Md.-based chicken company…Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter wrote in a blog post that “the emails suggest that in all things chicken, the Governor is little more than Perdue’s cheerleader and his real interest is in protecting the company.”…The emails reveal a relationship more complicated than Hauter’s criticism suggests. The mid-2010 back and forth over the Environment Maryland petition, one of the earliest exchanges in the year and a half of correspondence, shows that relations between O’Malley and Perdue were not warm at the time…That would soon change…the emails show an ambitious Democrat straining to push environmental initiatives important to his green legacy while cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with agriculture industry giant Perdue…In the emails, O’Malley at times strains to keep his administration in Perdue’s good graces…[at one point he even said] let me know when Buddy [the State’s Secretary of Agriculture] can/should be doing more to help you push stuff. I’m serious. I’ll have him call you monday…To O’Malley’s critics in the environmental community, the emails are evidence that the governor is in bed with Big Chicken. They argue that O’Malley’s Chesapeake Bay legislative victories frequently amount to stiff water utility fee increases — rather than crackdowns on agricultural runoff….O’Malley’s allies and critics in the environmental movement acknowledged the political wisdom of keeping Perdue executives close…In the wake of his press secretary’s comments, O’Malley in August 2010 asked Frerichs to read over a draft apology email O’Malley intended to send to Jim Perdue himself. At the time, industry leaders were wary that O’Malley might pursue a regulatory policy known as “co-permitting,” to which they were fiercely opposed. Co-permitting…would theoretically require contract poultry growers to obtain water pollution permits not only in their own names but also in the names of the companies…During the 2011 legislative session, O’Malley made his campaign to put wind turbines in the Atlantic off Ocean City the centerpiece of his clean-energy agenda…When he learned of opposition from the chicken industry…he fired off a one-line message to Frerichs: “So, you guys are now actively lobbying against wind too?”…Edwards suggested another motive for the poultry industry’s opposition to wind power: that chicken growers were laying the groundwork for a competing “renewable” energy proposal — a plant that would convert chicken litter to energy…O’Malley immediately made headlines with a letter he wrote to the University of Maryland law school dean, Phoebe Haddon. The governor sharply criticized the school’s environmental law clinic for its involvement in the March 2010 lawsuit attempting to hold Perdue responsible for pollution emanating from the family owned contract farm on the Eastern Shore…In his Nov. 17 letter, O’Malley blasted his law school’s involvement in helping “deep-pocketed litigants.” O’Malley called the effort “costly litigation of questionable merit” and a “state-sponsored injustice and a misuse of taxpayer resources.””
Now, its interesting that O’Malley backs the death penalty and wind turbines even with all this business support. One of the most important speeches for a Maryland governor, the State of the State will give some insight as well. Here is what he said in synopsis:
“Progress is a choice. Job creation is a choice. Whether we give our children a future of more or a future of less – this, too, is a choice…As we emerge from the toughest of economic times, the State of our State is strong, and we are growing stronger still. None of this happened by chance…We started following the same, nevermind-the-math approach that created our federal deficits. Democrats and Republicans alike – in this very Chamber – had voted to cut taxes for millionaires, and to greatly increase state spending, without paying for either one. The result: a $1.7 billion structural deficit…in 2007, together, we started making better choices. We cut spending growth. We added a penny to the sales tax to improve our children’s education. We restored revenues by making our tax code more progressive and fair. We took concrete action to close our structural deficit…We started measuring weekly performance to make government more effective…We constrained budget growth and made government smaller…We advanced public-private partnerships…at the Port of Baltimore…We cut more state spending than any administration in modern Maryland history…Job creation must be our top priority, always…Creating jobs through innovation is not just the responsibility of the private sector. There are things we can do together – through the common platform of our government – to accelerate innovation and improve the business climate: Attracting venture capital through InvestMaryland…Supporting Lt. Governor Brown’s efforts to advance the use of public-private partnerships…Business leaders I meet with throughout our State tell me we are simply not producing enough college graduates – especially in science, technology, engineering, and math [STEM]. We’ve done a good job of getting more of our children to college. But we must do a better job of getting more of our students through college…Jobs and opportunity; public safety, public education, public transportation, the health of our people and the health of our planet. These are our concerns; and these are the world’s concerns.”
One should take note that not necessarily everything corporate influenced O’Malley says is accurate in the slightest. But the fact he focuses on STEM is something the business community will like as well as continuing public-private partnerships. Also he is pushing the fact that government is becoming smaller, not bigger while championing the fact he cut spending. In the end, I still believe that O’Malley is benefiting the corporate sectors of society but we’ll see what he budget entails.
* CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Associates PAC, Suntrust Mid-Atlantic Bank PAC, American Express, Pfizer PAC, 1st Mariner Bank PAC, Maryland Association of Mortgage Brokers PAC, Maryland Soft Drink Association PAC, Maryland BankPAC, Realtors PAC MD, Genesis HealthCare Corp. PAC, Amerigroup Corporation, AT&T, Maryland PEPCO PAC, HSBC North America Political Action Committee, Microsoft Corporation Political Action Committee, Verizon Communications PAC, STV Incorporated, Verizon Communications, Inc. Good Government Club, Entertainment Software Association, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, and Bank of America Maryland PAC
**CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Associates PAC, PNC Bank PAC, Microsoft, Bank of America Maryland PAC, Baltimore County License Beverage Assoc. PAC, Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc./PAC, Maryland BankPAC(State), AT&T PAC MD, Maryland Realtors PAC, Comcast PAC MD, and Maryland PEPCO PAC
*** Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, The Procter & Gamble Company Good Government Committee, AllFirst Financial, Inc. State Political Action Co, Bank of America Maryland PAC, and AT&T Services, Inc.
**** Employees of Northrop Grumman Corporation PAC; Toyota Motor North America, Inc.; Rite Aid Headquaters Corp.; Maryland IT Federal PAC; CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Associates PAC; Southern MD Electric Co.-Choptank Electric Co. PAC; Chevy Chase Bank, FSB Maryland PAC; Verizon Communications, Inc. Good Government Club; M & T Bank PAC; Maryland PEPCO PAC; Comcast PAC MD; Washington Gas Light Company PAC; General Motors Company PAC; Maryland Poultry PAC; Mid-Atlantic Propane Gas Association PAC; Dominion Maryland PAC; State Farm Agents & Associates of MD PAC; AT&T PAC MD; Restaurant Association of Maryland Political Action Committee; Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc./PAC; Southwest Airlines CO Freedom Fund PAC; Bravo Health Associates PAC; Bank of America Maryland PAC; Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (big pharmaceutical lobby group); Wells Fargo Bank; and Honeywell International Political Action Committee.
***** The GlaxoSmithKline Political Action Committee; Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Maryland Realtors PAC; Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Assoc PAC