Wednesday, March 20, 2013

UGH: MD Senate Approves Lockheed Handout // MEANWHILE: Key House Committee Quietly Cancels Steak Dinner w/ Lockheed

MARYLAND DEMOCRATS ARE BRUSHING ASIDE VOTERS TO APPROVE THE LOCKHEED MARTIN WELFARE PLAN - Maryland Juice has been tracking the scandalous efforts by our politicians to give Pentagon contractor Lockheed Martin millions of dollars of corporate welfare -- in exchange for nothing at all. Over the objections of the Montgomery County Council, state lawmakers are trying to force MoCo to exempt Lockheed (and Lockheed alone) from having to pay millions in lodging taxes. No other person or business in Maryland gets to avoid this tax -- but then again no other company has the chutzpah of Lockheed Martin (consistently rated tops in the nation for government contract abuse). Even worse, Lockheed is admitting that the Federal government already reimburses them for most or all of the lodging tax that they are now trying to avoid paying!

In these challenging budgetary times, the Lockheed handout would net the wildly profitable company $4.5 million from our taxpayers every ten years in perpetuity. This is the same Lockheed that a few months ago used 3.5 million taxpayer dollars to give their CEO a golden parachute after he was caught having an affair with a subordinate (excerpt via AmericaBlog):
AMERICA BLOG: A man who was being groomed to take over as CEO of Lockheed, the nation’s largest defense contractor, has been forced to resign shortly before taking office. The reason — he was having a long-term extramarital affair with a “subordinate employee." But that’s not the scandal — the scandal is that you, the taxpayer, will pony up $3.5 million as a parting gift (or maybe a “partying gift”) even though he resigned in disgrace....
Dozens of groups have called on Democratic lawmakers to shut down Lockheed Martin's corporate welfare plan, but it looks like the politicians still aren't getting the message.

ROLL CALL // LOCKHEED CORPORATE WELFARE PLAN PASSES STATE SENATE 37 TO 9 - Late Monday night, the State Senate finally held a long-delayed vote on the Lockheed Martin welfare plan, and our elected officials demonstrated a rare moment of bipartisanship to pass this massive corporate hackery by the overwhelming margin of 37 to 9. Here are the only nine State Senators who rejected this inherently ridiculous welfare handout:
  1. Jim Brochin (Democrat)
  2. Brian Frosh (Democrat)
  3. Delores Kelley (Democrat)
  4. Karen Montgomery (Democrat)
  5. Anthony Muse (Democrat)
  6. Paul Pinsky (Democrat)
  7. Jamie Raskin (Democrat)
  8. Bryan Simonaire (Republican)
  9. Bobby Zirkin (Democrat)
A RARE MOMENT OF "BIPARTISANSHIP" FOR THE LOCKHEED HANDOUT - Amazingly, bipartisanship appears to be alive and well when it comes to corporate welfare. A bipartisan supermajority made up of 37 Senators voted to support this blind handout for Lockheed Martin (see their names here). The list includes all but one GOP member of the Senate, and 5 of the 8 State Senators from liberal Montgomery County. Maryland Juice has heard reports of intense lobbying from leadership figures and Lockheed Martin lobbyists in Annapolis, but I am disappointed that this sort of pro-forma pressure and institutional inertia actually works on our mostly able-minded Senators. Oy vey! 

BATTLE TO STOP LOCKHEED MARTIN HANDOUT MOVES TO HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE - Even though the Maryland Senate approved the Lockheed Martin welfare plan, voters still have several more opportunities to kill this proposal. The Lockheed bill (HB815) will now be debated in the House of Delegates Ways & Means Committee, where Montgomery County's Sheila Hixson serves as Committee Chair.  But the launch of the Lockheed effort in Hixson's committee was met with some early controversy....

HOUSE WAYS & MEANS MEMBERS QUIETLY CANCEL PRIVATE DINNER WITH LOCKHEED MARTIN LOBBYISTS AT RUTH'S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE - Amazingly, Lockheed Martin had planned a private dinner with the members of the House of Delegates Ways & Means Committee members only one day after the State Senate voted to send the Lockheed bill to the Ways & Means Committee. Indeed, Lockheed lobbyists had planned to ply the members of Sheila Hixson's committee with a lovely meal at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Annapolis. But someone apparently sensed that the public would go nuts about such shameless crony capitalism tactics, and the event was quickly and quietly canceled yesterday afternoon -- only 4.5 hours before the dinner was due to begin! Look at the leaked email below:
From: West, Nikki <>
Date: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:28 PM
Subject: Protocol Calendar Cancelation
To: Senate of Maryland <>, MD House of Delegates <>

Good Afternoon,

Please note the following Cancelation in the Protocol Calendar.

TUESDAY, March 19, 2013 - 7:00 p.m.
Lockheed Martin and Ways & Means Committee Dinner
Ruth's Chris
(House W&M Committee)
Susan Bernard - (410) 974-9000

STOP THE LOCKHEED WELFARE BILL IN THE HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE - I know I can't be the only one who is sick and tired of this type of cynical corporate politics. Maryland Juice encourages readers to contact Delegate Hixson ASAP, along with the other members of the Ways & Means Committee. Notably, Delegate Hixson has the power as a committee Chair to simply kill this bill by herself:

Photo Source: Edward Kimmel

Below I've listed the email addresses for the 23 Delegates on Ways & Means. I've also flagged their political parties and highlighted in red the 7 committee members who are sponsoring the Lockheed welfare bill (see below):

  1. Sheila Hixson (D Chair) -
  2. Frank Turner (D Vice-Chair) -
  3. Kathy Afzali (R) -
  5. Joseph Boteler (R) -
  6. Talmadge Branch (D) -
  8. Don Dwyer (R) -
  9. Mark Fisher (R) -
  11. Ronald George (R) -
  12. Nina Harper (D) -
  13. Carolyn Howard (D) -
  14. Jolene Ivey (D) - - LOCKHEED WELFARE SPONSOR
  15. Anne Kaiser (D) - - LOCKHEED WELFARE SPONSOR
  16. Eric Luedtke (D) - - LOCKHEED WELFARE SPONSOR
  17. Aruna Miller (D) - - LOCKHEED WELFARE SPONSOR
  18. LeRoy Myers (R) -
  19. Andrew Serafini (R) -
  20. Melvin Stukes (D) -
  21. Michael Summers (D) -
  22. Jay Walker (D) -
  23. Alonzo Washington (D) -

CONTINGENCIES - If Sheila Hixson is unwilling to kill the Lockheed Welfare bill in the Ways & Means Committee, advocates will have to fight this unjust corporate handout on the House Floor. And if that fails, it is time to ask Governor O'Malley to break out his VETO sword!


P.S. MARYLAND TAXPAYERS FUND A CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR LOBBYISTS & LAWMAKERS?  - The email copied above, which announced the cancellation of the Lockheed dinner, mentioned that the event was listed in a "protocol calendar." But as Maryland Juice has discovered, a "protocol calendar" is in reality a "lobbyist event calendar," plain and simple.

It turns out that our state tax dollars are spent on staff time for government employees to build and maintain this calendar of lobbyist events. Amazingly, the "protocol calendar" was apparently intended to bring transparency to the fact that these lobbyist-lawmaker mixers even occur. Fair enough, but it seems more and more like the calendar is actually facilitating the lobbyist contacts with legislators. Maybe lawmakers need to rename the "protocol calendar" with a less deceptive name (like "lobbyist event calendar") and proactively make sure they are actually seen by the public. If you're curious to see which industry lobbyists have been wining and dining your lawmakers, you can see two copies of protocol calendars from 2013. It looks like lawmakers have multiple options for lobbyist-paid meals practically every day of the legislative session!

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