ElectionsState Government

Lt. Gov Brown Uses State Resources for Campaign; “Watchdog” Group Misses the Point Entirely

09.08.11news-bush-anthony-brown-qa-911-edit

Using state resources for political purposes is the sort of corruption that wouldn’t surprise most Marylanders. That the “state resources” in question are luxury skybox seats for Redskins games might give some pause.  That a self-proclaimed “watchdog” group fails to see the real problem is completely unacceptable.

This came to our attention via Delegate Tony McConkey’s Twitter feed.

The link to McConkey’s blog site then takes to the Baltimore Sun’s article

Brown hosts influential guests in Redskins stadium skybox

As he runs for governor, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown has hosted politically influential guests — including lobbyists, campaign contributors and union leaders — in the state’s skybox at the Redskins‘ stadium, records show.

Brown’s guests during the 2012 and 2013 football seasons have included well-connected lobbyists Earl Adams Jr. and Major F. Riddick Jr., pastors from significant Prince George’s County churches and the supervisor of a state trooper who issued a report criticizing the behavior of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, a rival in the governor’s race.

Government watchdog group Common Cause Maryland — which has been critical of how the state’s top politicians use stadium boxes — renewed its call for more tickets to go to community volunteers, advocates for children and others without much political influence.

Common Cause Maryland should be applauded for calling this to the public’s attention but they fail to grasp the real issue here.

“We absolutely would like it to be transformed to reward community leaders instead of politically connected people,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, the organization’s director. “There’s nothing illegal or nefarious about giving the tickets to politically connected people, but this could be a way to help kids, making it more meaningful than a political tool.”

How about asking why the Maryland taxpayers should be buying Redskins skybox tickets for anyone?

Records about the skybox — released to The Baltimore Sun in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request — also show that during the 2012 season, Brown charged $5,600 to the taxpayers for food and drink for him and his guests over 10 home games. In the first three games of 2013, Brown’s party spent $3,000 on concessions, including $1,400 during Washington’s Sept. 9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Oh, and by the way, Maryland taxpayers are also paying for similar accommodations at the Baltimore Ravens stadium.

While Gov. Martin O’Malley typically plays host in the state’s box at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, he has delegated to Brown use of the box at the Redskins’ stadium, officials have said. Brown is from Prince George’s County.

It’s astonishing that a “watchdog” group looks at this situation and only finds fault with how these taxpayer funded luxuries are doled out by the state’s royalty.  And Brown’s bold promise to distribute freebies more equitably if elected is equally ridiculous.

“Under a Brown-Ulman administration, we will make the state’s tickets to sporting and other events available to a wide audience by establishing a more formal process to distribute these tickets to community-based non-profits and state government employees who demonstrate outstanding service,” Brown said in the statement. “These events bring our communities together and it’s important for us to include as many of our fellow Marylanders as possible.”

I’m eager to see which candidates use this situation in a campaign ad. Sadly, Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Delegate Ron George just echoed Brown’s promise to continue doling out these taxpayer funded luxuries,  just to a different class of people.

A Republican candidate for governor, Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County, said he believes the state’s boxes are being used to reward people who have supported the administration. “I would like to use it for things like a Boys’ or Girls’ club.” George said.

Is it really a function of state government to send anyone to an NFL game?

 

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